UK threat level critical
Troops patrol streets
President Richard Nixon
went to Saudi Arabia and
June 1974 to change
the domestic narrative. He
Horror in Manchester
Suicide bomb attack at
Ariana Grande concert:
22 killed, 59 injured
2017 May 24
Terrorists Target Children
The New York Times
The suicide bombing in Manchester,
England, on Monday night that killed young fans of the pop star
Ariana Grande is wrenching.
Daesh claimed responsibility for
the bombing. British police officials believe the suicide was Salman
Abedi, 22, whose parents emigrated from Libya. This attack is an
attempt to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for safety
that sweeps away the most cherished democratic and inclusive values.
Daesh wants to watch Western democracies embrace its mad version of
a holy war pitting Muslims against Christians.
AR NYT published leaked details that
hinder ongoing British law enforcement operations. This will have
implications for future UK-US security cooperation.
Service and Care
President Trump met with Pope Francis. Trump described the
meeting as a great honor.
A Vatican statement confirmed their
joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and
conscience, and called for collaboration between the State and the
Catholic Church in the United States in service to the people in the
fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.
Francis gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on caring for the
Nearly 7 out of 10 people in the UK
support the creation of a form of world government to deal with
major risks facing the world. Over 6 in 10 say they consider
themselves global citizens.
A survey interviewed 8,100 people
in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK
and US. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 supported taking action on
In the UK, over 8 in 10 agreed climate change
could be a global catastrophe. A majority (54%) said they would be
happy for the UK to give up some sovereignty to address such
The Trump Budget
President Trump will call on Congress to
push through $3.6 trillion of spending cuts in order to balance the
federal budget in 10 years. He proposes a range of cuts in welfare
outlays and healthcare support for poorer families, while sheltering
the military, social security, and Medicare.
The first Trump budget appears to contain a logical error of the
kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory
Apparently, the budget forecasts that US
growth will rise to 3% by 2021 thanks to proposed tax cuts and
regulatory policies. Then the administration asserts that it will
propose revenue-neutral tax cuts, with the revenue neutrality coming
in part because the tax cuts stimulate growth.
to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget
in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.
president's economic team is failing. Claims about tax cuts not
favoring the rich, claims made for the deal negotiated last week
with China, the ridiculous estimate of the costs of Dodd-Frank, or
the new budget — not one of them meets a minimal standard of
competence and honesty.
2017 May 23
God of Israel
"The ties of the Jewish people to this
holy land are ancient and eternal .. Israel is testament to the
unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people .. My administration will
always stand with Israel."
Donald Trump, Jerusalem
God of Go
The New York Times
The world’s best player of Go has been
defeated by an AI program. Chinese champion Ke Jie, 19, was defeated
by AlphaGo, developed by Google division DeepMind. Ke: "Last year,
it was still quite humanlike when it played, but this year, it
became like a god of Go."
Time in Islam
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Islamic conception of time is that
mere chronology is irrelevant in comparison with the theological
sense of eternity. What matters is only the Hereafter, and thus
heaven and hell. Mere terrestrial time is seen as limited and
relatively insignificant, a stepping stone to the infinite. This is
the core of Islam. So working hard and making money, or recreational
things like going to the pub or watching soccer or going to the
movies — all this is rejected as sinful or futile.
AR The Prophet contemplated eternity on
clear nights on a mountaintop.
Time in Physics
In special relativity, the time directions
are structurally different from the space directions. In the
timelike directions, you have a further distinction into the future
and the past, whereas any spacelike direction can be continuously
rotated into any other spacelike direction. The two classes of
timelike directions cannot be continuously transformed into one
If time had no direction, that would make
time into just another spatial dimension. I can imagine a 4D spatial
object, but nothing happens in it. This is the way people often talk
about the block universe. I believe that the past is as real as the
present, which is as real as the future. Things that happened in the
past were just as real. If that is all it means to believe in a
block universe, fine.
The block universe is a rigid
structure. The totality of concrete physical reality specifies that
4D structure and what happens everywhere in it. In Newtonian
mechanics, this object is foliated by planes of absolute
simultaneity. And in relativity you have a light cone structure
instead. So it has a different geometrical character. But the idea
that the block universe is static drives me crazy.
to pass means for events to be linearly ordered, by earlier and
later. The causal structure of the world depends on its temporal
structure. To understand the later states, you look at the earlier
states and not the other way around. The direction of causation is
also the direction of explanation. Time is a fundamental feature of
AR Time is basic in
physics. Quantum mechanics points to a better understanding. The key
is to get the math right — my work in progress on the foundations of
quantum theory has a lot of math in it so I am writing it
anew in TeX (MacTeX, via arXiv).
President Trump in Israel — his
message to Benjamin Netanyahu: If Israel really wants
peace with its Arab neighbors,
the cost will be resolving the
standoff with the Palestinians.
"On those issues, there is a
strong consensus among the nations of the world — including many in
the Muslim world.
I was deeply encouraged by my conversations
with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia, including King Salman,
who .. would love to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians."
Crazy Nut Job
Trump told Russian officials
pressure: "He was crazy,
a real nut job."
PDF, 88 pages
"We do not believe in
untrammelled free markets.
We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We see rigid
and ideology not just
as needless but dangerous ..
we can and must
take this opportunity to
build a great
here in Britain."
PDF, 28 pages
"Never, never, never give up."
"Never, never, never give in."
Robert Mueller will lead
the FBI investigation into
Russian meddling in the
2016 presidential election.
Mueller was FBI director from
2001 to 2013. Barack Obama
called him the gold standard
for leading the bureau.
2017 May 22
Saudis v Iran
Donald Trump in Riyadh on Iran: "It is a
government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction
of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations
in this room."
Saudi Arabia and Iran remain the most powerful
countries in the Mideast. Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin
Salman rejects talks with Iran: "We will not wait until the battle
is in Saudi Arabia but we will work so the battle is there in Iran."
Concerns about Iran help explain the warm welcome in Riyadh for
Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices, high
unemployment, widespread corruption, and war in Yemen.
will not soon reform. Moderate president Hassan Rouhani has been
re-elected but an imperial foreign policy employs militant groups
such as Hizbollah and Hamas to project armed force.
Arabia and its conservative Sunni allies will be hard pressed to
match Iran even with their new US arms. Saudi-Iranian relations
could all too easily take a turn for the worse.
Trump On Islam
President Trump managed his speech on
Islam in Saudi Arabia without mistakes. He quoted from the Koran,
praised Islamic culture, and heralded a new beginning: "America and
Islam are not mutually exclusive and are not in competition with
Trump is right that the Mideast does not fufill
its potential, but terrorism is only partly to blame. Corruption,
cronyism, and discrimination hold back the Muslim world. The
greatest fear for people in poorer Muslim countries is failing to
find a job or to feed the family.
In Saudi Arabia bibles and
crosses are forbidden and no other faith than Sunni Islam can be
lived freely. For the Saudi rulers, a Muslim who publicly renounces
Islam is a terrorist but a Muslim who blows up in a bus in Jerusalem
is a martyr.
2017 May 21
Battle Between Good and Evil
Our goal is a coalition of nations who share
the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a
hopeful future that does honor to God.
This is not a battle
between different faiths, different sects, or different
civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek
to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who
seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.
There is still much work to be done. That means honestly confronting
the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror
of all kinds. We must stop what they are doing. Drive them out of
your places of worship, drive them out of your holy land.
Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely
invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of
Trump went off script to cite Islamic extremism and Islamic
2017 May 20
in my bed between slumbers,
My thoughts swirled around complex
They made an equation
With artful persuasion
conjured up dreams full of wonders.
A limerick for math can
You just have to do a small sum.
I did one with phi
And imaginary i,
Thought Euler and just let it run.
was an equation well wrought:
E power i phi as first thought,
Then minus cos phi,
Minus i by sin phi,
To find that it all
comes to nought.
Not long after the Big Bang, a hydrogen fog
pervaded the early universe and snuffed out the light of the first
stars and galaxies. For hundreds of millions of years, they were all
but invisible. Eventually this fog burned off as UV light reionized
In the first years ABB, free
particles flew about scattering light. At about 380 ky ABB, they
cooled enough to form H atoms, which clumped into stars. The first
hot stars started the reionization, but they soon died, and later
stars were dimmer and cooler.
Supermassive black holes power
quasars. Because quasars emit way more hard radiation than stars do,
they may have reionized the universe. Astronomers have found faint
quasars at around 1 Gy ABB and evidence for quasars back to 600 My
AR The past was a violent
Hatred, Insanity, Absolute Rubbish
The British government will always hate me.
They will never forgive me for being successful.
A wave of
insanity overcame the political classes of Europe. Europe is not the
EU. I am working for a real Europe, one that does not attempt to
take away from individual member states their national identity.
We British are not allowed to have our own foreign policy. We
are not allowed to have our own trade policy. We have to break this
down. The EU is dying. The whole project is finished.
with the Russian Embassy's deputy chief-of-mission in London in
2013. I said I admire Vladimir Putin. As a political operator, he
was the best in the world.
I never received a penny from
Russia. My campaign was not about money but about messages. I appear
on Russia Today twice a year, or three times last year.
went to meet Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for
journalistic reasons. I met with him very briefly. We talked about a
lot of things.
I used to do politics 100 hours a week. But
now I do politics for 40 hours a week, so I have got a lot of time
to do other things. I am a Fox News contributor. I am an LBC
presenter. I write.
The EU wants to expand to the east and
threatens Russia. I want the EU to be destroyed. The EU is an
anti-democratic, failing structure.
Brexit is the best thing.
The idea that the EU is good for the economy is absolute rubbish.
2017 May 19
The next five years are the most challenging
that Britain has faced in my lifetime.
Brexit will define us.
Now more than ever,
● Britain needs a strong and
● Britain needs strong and
● Britain needs a clear plan
I believe our United Kingdom can emerge from this period of
great national change stronger and more prosperous than ever before.
I believe we can be a country that stands tall in the world and
provides leadership on some of the greatest challenges of our time.
I believe we can — and must — take this opportunity to build a
Great Meritocracy here in Britain.
Five giant challenges:
1 A strong economy that works for
We need to make the most of our existing
strengths, invest in infrastructure and people, and ensure that the
whole of our economy across the whole of our country can grow.
Without a strong economy, we cannot guarantee our security, our
personal prosperity, our public services, or contented and
A strong and united nation
in a changing world
We need to deliver a smooth and
orderly departure from the EU and forge a deep and special
partnership with our friends and allies across Europe. As there is
increasingly little distinction between domestic and international
affairs in matters of migration, national security and the economy,
Britain must stay strong and united — and take a lead in the world
to defend our interests.
For too many people, where you end up
in life is still determined by where you were born and to whom. We
need to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most
of their talents and hard work, whoever you are and wherever you are
4 A restored
contract between the generations
We need to respond to
the reality of an ageing society, giving people security in old age
and caring for those with long-term health conditions, while making
sure we are fair to younger generations.
Prosperity and security in a digital age
sake of our economy and our society, we need to harness the power of
fast-changing technology, while ensuring that our security and
personal privacy — and the welfare of children and younger people —
Theresa May nennt das
Tory-Parteiprogramm ein Porträt Großbritanniens nach dem Brexit.
May hat die Einwanderung als ein Grundproblem definiert, das den
sozialen Zusammenhalt unterminiert. Deshalb wird sie die
Beschäftigungsbedingungen für ausländische Arbeitnehmer in Zukunft
Für den Moment betrifft diese Regelung nur
Nicht-EU-Bürger. Aber die Uhr tickt. Am 30. März 2019 werden
auch die EU-Ausländer voraussichtlich nur noch
einfache Ausländer sein. Dann gehen britische Bürger endgültig vor.
May wird das Reich in eine neue Richtung führen, mit harter
Ich will nicht in einem ausländerfeindlichen Königreich wohnen.
European Maritime Day 2017
Poole, UK, May 18-19, 2017
European Maritime Day is the
annual meeting point for Europe's maritime community to network,
discuss and forge joint action.
The Future of our Seas
Welcome to European Maritime Day 2017. As
it does every year, this conference brings together Europe's
maritime community to exchange ideas and forge partnerships needed
for the blue economy.
From maritime spatial planning to the fight against
illegal fishing, ocean mapping to marine science, habitat
conservation to regional strategies, our collective initiatives have
transformed the way Europe goes about the maritime business.
This year's theme introduces corporate responsibility as
one of the pivotal aspects of sustainability. It therefore strives
to secure commitment not just from governments and NGOs but also
from business leaders all over the world.
Welcome to Poole
Poole is proud to be the host of the
prestigious European Maritime Day conference this year. The program for the
conference at Lighthouse Poole is extensive. In support of European
Maritime Day, Poole has created an interesting and diverse business
program to enable its
local and regional businesses to be part of the event and maximize the opportunities for the region.
is a Conservative councillor and Leader of the Council, Borough of
Poole. I have worked in close coordination with her since 2014.
2017 May 18
Is Trump Toast?
Donald Trump came to the presidency skilled
in the art of deceit. More than forty years ago, Roy Cohn, who lived
for decades under various indictments for bribery, extortion, and
other sins, and yet always managed to escape conviction, instructed
the ambitious young man in the dark arts.
Trump the businessman was spurned by the New York business
community less for his cartoonish flamboyance than for his
dishonesty and meanness of character. He stiffed contractors and
workers, screwed creditors, violated casino regulations, promoted
scams, and bragged of charitable contributions he never made.
In the past two weeks, a presidency of ideological meanness and
unsurpassing incompetence has moved on. The usual comparison is with
the Nixon presidency in the Watergate era.
Nixon aide Roger
Stone was a political mentor to Trump. Roy Cohn introduced Stone to
Trump, and Stone helped Trump see the political advantage in many
sleazy tactics and alliances. Since then, Trump has been the focus
of investigations on housing discrimination, bribery, corruption,
dealings with the mob, misleading earnings reports, fraud, and
improper campaign contributions.
The Trump presidency may
well end before 2021.
The 25th Amendment
The US presidency is not just another
office. Donald Trump has charisma, cunning, an instinct for the
jugular, a common touch, and a certain creativity. But they are not
The presidency now has kinglike qualities, and we
have a child upon the throne. It is a child who blurts out
classified information in order to impress distinguished visitors or
who asks the head of the FBI why the rules cannot be suspended for
his friend and ally. A child also cannot really commit high crimes
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution
allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a
majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is unable to
discharge the powers and duties of his office and (should the
president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress
confirms the judgment.
I respectfully ask leading Republicans
to reconsider their support for Trump.
Eurasian eagle owl
Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau malt, dann ist eine Gestalt des Lebens
.. die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der
einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug."
Washington fällt das
Poole protest vote
1987 — 2007
2017 May 17
Most people know Donald Trump is unfit to be
commander-in-chief. But no elected Republican has
dared to act. Over a quarter of Americans are diehard
Trump draws power from alternative
narratives. Whenever the elites express outrage at his actions, his
supporters take pleasure in their anguish. Trump is delivering on
what he promised.
Republicans may bide their time until
midterm elections. If polls were held today Republicans would lose
control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate.
Then they would act.
Republicans stand for national security
and the moral fiber of American leadership. Trump is tearing up
those principles before their eyes. They must hold him to account.
Daniel W. Drezner
Donald Trump improvises, he thinks on
his feet. It sounds like he blurted out national security secrets
because he was bragging.
Trump got what he shared from an
intelligence report. This is probably going to affect the way the US
intelligence community does things like putting together briefing
memos and so forth. You can see why they would be incentivized to
say as little about sources and methods as possible.
Washington Post story is accurate, Trump gave information where it
would be easy to divine where the source came from. So if you are an
intelligence agency, and you want to provide information to the
president, you have to be worried that if you got information from a
sole source, he then might just blurt something out and burn that
Trump has committed a series of gaffes and own goals.
Trump: Let Flynn Go
The New York Times
President Trump asked FBI director
James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into former
national security adviser Michael Flynn. The request is documented
in a memo Comey wrote shortly after an Oval Office meeting that took
place the day after Flynn resigned in February. Such FBI memos are
widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
According to the memo, the president told Comey: "I hope you can
see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a
good guy. I hope you can let this go."
Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz demanded that the FBI turn over
all "memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings" of discussions
between Trump and Comey.
blood — the hunt is on.
Report: Israel Was Source of Secret Trump Intel
Trump Didnt Even Know Where Info Came From
McCain: Trump Scandal
Has Hit 'Watergate Size'
2017 May 16
White House Chaos
This time it did not even take 24 hours
for Donald Trump to throw his staffers under the bus and contradict
The president revealed highly classified
information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an
Oval Office meeting last week, potentially endangering a coveted
intelligence asset, compromising a crucial alliance, and undermining
the war effort against Daesh.
After The Post broke the story,
senior White House aides quickly denied it. Then, on Twitter this
morning, Trump essentially acknowledged that our reporting is
AR The Post smells
blood and strikes a pose.
Merkron Drive EZ Motor
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela
Merkel agree on a reconstruction of Europe. They say they are
ready to change the EU treaties to strengthen the EZ.
"In the past the subject of treaty change was a French taboo. That
will no longer be the case. What the eurozone needs is an investment
policy. We have to introduce new, fresh money as a budget. That
requires convergence rules, real structural reforms .. That is the
goal of the joint road map we are working on."
are at a moment where people are looking tentatively at the European
Union and realising it does us a great deal of good, it is important
.. we should use this moment to push forward the strengthening of
Macron: "The French agenda will be an agenda of
reform in the coming months, in economic, social, and educational
terms — not because Europe requests it, but because France needs
Germany On Brexit
There are two Germanys. One is familiar to
Britain: the efficient, sober place where they make the cars and the
dishwashers. These Germans exhibit a pragmatism born of a seafaring
past. For centuries the Hanseatic League had trading posts in London
and in towns all along eastern England. This is the Germany with
which Britain can do business.
There is another Germany. If
the first is the Germany of seas, the second is the Germany of
rivers. It is a romantic land of dense forests and dark past
traumas. It is continental and bleeds into bordering countries. This
is the Germany where many families have collective memories of
oppression and flight. For this Germany, Europe is about more than
The two Germanys are often in tension, and Angela
Merkel bears traces of both sides. The chancellor has Hanseatic
family roots. She thinks that national governments, not the European
Commission, should call the shots in the EU. Yet she also embodies
the Germany of rivers. Merkel grew up behind the Iron Curtain and
bridles at fences and walls.
Brexit has aligned the two
Germanys: The Germany of rivers wants a clean Brexit; the Germany of
seas mourns the loss but essentially agrees. German interests once
served by a closer relationship with London now depend on the
cohesion of the single market. The British who lost their way must
learn there is no deal better than membership.
EU Defense Fund
Brussels plans to spend EU funds for
military purposes. A proposed European Defense Fund would finance
the development of prototype military kit such as drones, robots,
and cyber defence technology. The European Commission will ask
member states and MEPs to back the plans.
France and Germany
believe Brexit will let them deepen EU military activities. EU-27
members will be asked to pool military spending to reinforce
anti-terror defenses and external borders. The new fund raises
pressure on Brussels to make up an annual budget shortfall of €10
billion after Brexit.
Under EU law, the EU budget cannot be
used to fund military operations. Brussels says it can legally set
up a fund tapping the EU budget to develop high-tech military
prototypes. The European Commission believes the fund could spend
€500 million per year on research from 2020.
AR Good plan — pity UK out of it.
2017 May 15
Silk Road Spirit
More than 2,000 years ago, our ancestors,
driven by a desire for friendship, opened the overland and maritime
Silk Roads and thus started a great era of exchanges among
Today, we gather here to renew the Silk Road
spirit and discuss the Belt and Road development for international
cooperation. This is both a continuation of our shared legacy and a
right choice for the future.
We are at a fresh starting
point, ready to embark on a new journey together. So long as we
press ahead with a common vision without back-pedaling or standing
still, we will achieve greater connectivity and benefit from each
Belt and Road initiative
Economic growth is not on solid
ground. Economic globalization is encountering some headwinds.
Development has become more uneven, not to mention the other
challenges that overshadow the world economy, such as wars,
conflicts, terrorism, and a massive flow of refugees and migrants.
Confronted by these challenges, many countries are pondering the
way forward. In a world of growing interdependence and challenges,
no country can tackle all the challenges or solve global problems on
Swan geese can fly far and safely through winds and
storms because they move in flocks and help each other as a team.
The best way to meet challenges and achieve better development is
The Belt and Road initiative is the
project of the century and will add splendor to human civilization.
Accelerationists say computer technology and
global capitalism should be massively sped up and intensified. They
favor robots and cyborgs. A central figure of accelerationism is
British philosopher Nick Land.
Land has published
prolifically on the internet about the obsolescence of western
democracy. He has also written approvingly about human biodiversity,
capitalistic human sorting, and the inevitable disintegration of the
human species as AI improves. Accelerationism is not about
Land taught philosophy at the University of
Warwick. He wrote in 1992 that capitalism had always been held back
by politics and saw civilization accelerating toward an apocalypse.
He said he worked in the field of The Collapse of Western
In 1995, Land and others founded the
Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU). Initially based in the Warwick philosophy department, it later moved to a
room above a shop in Leamington Spa. Its members remain attached to the idea that it became a kind of group mind.
Even inside the Warwick philosophy department, its
disdain for standard academic practice became an issue.
Early in the new millennium, after a breakdown, Land left
Britain. He now lives in Shanghai. In a 2004 article, he described
the modern Chinese fusion of Marxism and capitalism as the greatest
political engine of social and economic development the world has
Mind and Body
You are the subject.
You are not
your body. The body is part of your experience, just as things in
the world outside are part of your experience. Both are you.
At every moment, you are an experience identical with an object that
is causally affecting your body. You are the thing that has your
experience. You experience those objects.
A subject is a
combination of objects relative to your body. To be a subject is to
experience objects relative to your body. We each experience a world
that differs from what others experience.
The self is the
AR This is the position I
worked out in Mindworlds.
2017 May 14
Eurovision 2017 was won for Portugal by
The song was immensely, stoppingly surprising,
Hopes for the "epic sax guy" of Moldova were doomed.
Romania ran with a phenomenal mix of yodelling meets rap.
came on with a lovely mix of hip-hop and gypsy.
many high mad hopes for a dreadful mélange.
Lucie Jones sang well
for the UK and garnered many votes.
Denmark went for an Aussie
who is still learning the language.
Ukraine gyrated around a
giant heavy metal head.
Germany went with a sweet but unmemorable
My father was a socialist. I see myself as a conscious capitalist. You have to respect what
money and success gives you, then have the responsibility that goes
with that. My strength of character is a privilege. I can do
anything to survive.
I expected people to be nasty. I didn't
expect people to say I wasn't even human, that I was a primate, and
that I should be beheaded and shot. Other people took out Facebook
campaigns to gang-rape me because that's what black bitches deserve.
The one repeated over and over is that I should be the second Jo
Cox. Now I have security all around my home.
sending me letters about what was happening. This young Polish woman
who was standing at a bus stop up north was kicked to the ground. A
grandmother said her grandson won't go to school because he's been
told he's a monkey and he should get back home. I get these all the
time now, and they are saying I need to be their voice.
hard-right element in the Conservative party is gaining more and
more power. Their agenda is quite simply low tax, low regulation,
low social spending. They make lots of money for themselves and
watch everybody else suffering.
Angry old men are shaping the future of the
country against the inclinations of its youth. By 2019 the country
could be in a receptive mood: 2.5 million over-18-year-olds, freshly
franchised and mostly remainers; 1.5 million oldsters, mostly
Brexiters, freshly in their graves.
Brexit has stirred something not heroic or celebratory or generous
in the nation, but instead has coaxed into the light from some dark,
damp places the lowest human impulses, from the small-minded to the
mean-spirited to the murderous.
2017 May 13
The star TRAPPIST-1 is circled by seven
planets about the size of Earth. The clockwork of the star system is
the most complex case yet of a resonant chain, where the years of
each orbiting body relate to one another as simple ratios. For every
8 times the innermost world races through its orbit, the next planet
goes around roughly 5 times, the next one after that orbits 3 times,
and the next one 2 times. And so on.
Matt Russo, Daniel
Tamayo, and Andrew Santaguida have translated their intricate dance
into a musical composition —
Trappist Sounds (1:54).
The seventh planet, h, orbits
about once every 3 weeks. Sped up some 200 million times and
expressed in sound waves, that frequency is a C note. From there,
the known ratios between planets determine every other signature
note. Together the notes form a major ninth chord. The team added
drumbeats for whenever an inner planet overtakes an outer neighbor,
marking close gravitational interactions among the planets.
Quantum particles are bubbles of froth
kicked up by underlying fields. The fields fluctuate in intensity
and direction. The average value of the electromagnetic field in a
vacuum is zero, but the average value of its square is not, so the
energy density in an EM field is infinite.
fluctuations are virtual particles or zero-point motion. They
involve an infinite amount of energy. But only changes in energy are
observable, and confirm predictions.
Gravity responds to all
kinds of energy. So the infinite energy density associated with the
activity of quantum fields is a problem. Experiments show the
gravitational pull of the vacuum is quite small.
density of the vacuum is dark energy. For fields associated with
bosons the energy density is positive infinity, while for fields
associated with fermions the energy density is negative infinity.
The infinities can cancel in supersymmetric theories.
addition to fluctuating fields, the vacuum contains condensates,
such as the Higgs condensate, which should also weigh something.
Perhaps the measured level of dark energy is an anthropic feature of
our corner of the multiverse. I hope we find a better story.
AR I like loop quantum gravity — see
Russian Foreign Ministry
Trump with Sergey Lavrov
and Sergey Kislyak
Buzz Aldrin: "We can afford
to go to Mars .. We must
our limited resources
on only those things that
Get your ass to Mars!"
2017 May 12
Theresa May and the
Conservatives are on course for a landslide victory.
speaks as if Britain is a nation united, aside from the divisive
forces of party politics and liberal elites seeking to thwart the
will of the people. She claims her opponents are merely playing
political games and stresses the need for strong and stable
leadership — a classic populist trope.
Her campaign message
is simple and strong. A campaign video sees her speaking solemnly in
front of a Union Jack in a dimly lit room as if announcing a new
war, using the majestic plural variously to mean her party, her
government, or all true Brits. The viewer is blinded by her majesty.
If Brexit goes bad, she and her party will be the rock in the
AR FUK v EUSSR — Brexit is
Battle of Britain 2.
Another Tweet Too Far
Trump tweet: "James Comey better hope that
there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking
to the press!"
The Republican dam must break. The party once
united by political thought and respect for civic virtue has adopted
an unscrupulous leader for the sake of holding power. Republicans
defend ignorance, bigotry, dishonesty, and ineptitude for the sake
of a top marginal tax rate of 28% — this seems shockingly
Trump says he fired James Comey because he
decided Russian interference in the election was fake news. The
entire intelligence community confirms the interference and members
of both parties acknowledge it. Republicans are refusing to concede
that bullying and firing the FBI director is impeachable conduct.
We are not surprised that the president thinks he can shut down
an investigation if he dislikes the way it is going. We are
surprised that so many conservatives are letting tribal loyalty
trump the truth. We hope the dam breaks soon.
AR Terminate the Terminator — asap.
A handful of American technology companies
now dominates much of the global economy. The Frightful Five —
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet, the parent company
of Google — are among the most valuable companies on the planet,
collectively worth trillions. Apple reached $800 billion in market
cap this week, and the others may not be far behind.
way to appreciate the power of these five might be to examine the
role each of them plays in your own life, and the grip each holds on
your psyche. Last week I came up with a fun game: If an evil monarch
forced you to abandon each of the Frightful Five, in which order
would you do so, and how much would your life deteriorate as a
AR The real story of our time —
(ppsx, 6.4 MB).
2017 May 11
After the president fired James Comey,
the cloud hanging over the White House got bigger and darker. Donald
Trump looks like he does not want to get to the bottom of Russian
interference in the US election and the potential wrongdoing of his
POTUS 45 has surrounded himself with sycophants
and amateurs. They were caught off guard by the blowback. Senate
investigators have asked the Treasury Department criminal
investigation division for any relevant financial information
related to Trump and his team.
Terminating Comey will only
lead to more questions about Russia. Hours later Trump met in the
Oval Office with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and
ambassador Sergey Kislyak, implicated by the FBI in the Michael Flynn investigation.
The FBI fears the Russia investigation might now be upended.
Trump has hired a Washington law firm to deny that he has
connections to Russia. This will give new momentum to Democratic
calls for a special prosecutor.
Consumption is as much about state
intervention as about individuals or markets. For a consumer society
to flourish, goods have to be invited in. The drive for accumulation
is made a virtue.
Marxists said commodity fetishism put a
price on the products of labor and alienated things from their
makers. In 1958, J.K. Galbraith said consumerism had sapped people
of their commitment to the public good.
State spending is
part of the story of consumption. Crucial to postwar affluence in
Europe and the United States was sharply increasing public spending.
Social democracy spurred on consumerism.
Consumption is a
juggernaut. We can lament the volume of stuff we purchase, yet much
of our waste is from habits that have little to do with individual
motives or morality.
Researchers are exploring the tree of life
to consider where, when, and why consciousness emerged.
Seth says we can infer the evolutionary history of consciousness by
comparing animals alive today and working back to their common
ancestor. As we observe signs of consciousness in other animals, we
can gradually refine our notion of what we are talking about.
Jesse Prinz says consciousness is largely about perception and
emotion. These basic components of conscious experience could be
widespread, even in animals that lack our mental sophistication and
Bjørn Grinde finds that mammals, birds, and
reptiles all show signs of emotional responses, while fish and
amphibians do not. The brains of higher vertebrates show that the
ability to assign value to an experience arose around 300 million
years ago in their common ancestor. Consciousness is slow and energy
intensive, and can only do one thing at a time, so perhaps it
emerged just once.
Bruno van Swinderen looked at selective
attention. He trained fruit flies to walk on a trackball in front of
a virtual scene. By rotating the trackball, the flies could choose
which of two objects to attend to. When a fly attended to an object,
its brain generated specific frequencies recorded by probes. A
dynamic window of attention that moved around and suppressed
competing objects marked the dawn of consciousness. The animals that
pay attention also need to sleep and include vertebrates, insects,
crustaceans, and octopuses.
Michael Graziano says selective
attention is about data handling. An animal needs a mental model of
attention much as it needs a mental model of its body. This model is
responsible for our conscious awareness of the world. Perhaps such
sophistication is only found in vertebrates.
believes unlimited associative learning is a marker for the origin
of consciousness. This requires selective attention, binding
sensations into a perception, performing compound action patterns,
and distinguishing between self and environment. Such learning is
widespread in the animal kingdom and may have evolved about half a
billion years ago.
2017 May 10
I believe that a Brexit
deal remains more likely than unlikely. There is more that unites
the two sides than separates them. A no-deal scenario would be a
disaster for all.
An early challenge will be to agree on the
rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa. The complexities at
stake include residency, healthcare, social security, and
non-discrimination. All of these rights will need a mutually agreed
The debate about a financial
settlement is likely to be complex and heated. The EU will not seek
to punish the UK, but it is only fair that the UK agrees to pay its
share of outstanding commitments and liabilities. It would be wrong
for EU taxpayers to be asked to pay it.
The third priority is
a solution to protect the Good Friday Agreement. This may ultimately
require a special status for Northern Ireland. Many Irish citizens
residing in Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy rights as EU
The EU and the UK should aim for a future
association agreement that goes beyond trade to include security and
defence cooperation. Discussions about a future partnership can only
start when there is clarity about how the existing relationship is
I am confident the gulf between the EU and the UK
government can be bridged. Achieving this will require cool heads.
Failure would not be in the interests of either side.
AR Good start
Tim P Whitby/Getty Images
Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains
V&A Museum, London, 2017-05-13 — 2017-10-01
APC in Arctic camo
Christianity and Jews
Poole Bay bathing season
has begun —
sea is still chilly
Ne nous quittez pas!
— eine politische
World Naked Gardening Day
UK 1P State
UK Local Elections
Lib Dem -37
AR England is blue.
"These negotiations are
difficult enough as they are.
start arguing before they
even begin, they will become
impossible. [We] need today
respect, and a
maximum of goodwill."
La France et le franc
Marine Le Pen has dropped
her manifesto pledge to quit
the euro and restore the franc.
Pundits feared an instant
Commons European scrutiny
committee chair Sir
is sure Germany and the EU are
May: "What they are doing is
trying to exploit a
of project fear."
Tim Berners-Lee wins
Axel Springer Award
Tony Blair: "What's
in Britain worries me .. I know
the moment I stick
out the door I'll get a bucket
of wotsit poured all
me, but I really do feel
passionate about this."
2017 May 9
RAF Atlas Success
The UK Ministry of Defence says the key
contractual milestone has been met following the handing over of its
seventh Airbus A400M airlifter. The RAF has four A400M Atlas
aircraft in service and three undergoing installation and testing of
a defensive subsystem. The RAF A400M fleet is achieving excellent
in-service results, with a mission success rate in excess of 90%.
sieht die militärische Einsatzfähigkeit des Transportflugzeugs A400M
wegen anhaltender technischer Probleme und der Vertragsquerelen mit
dem Hersteller Airbus gefährdet. Airbus werde nicht die nötigen
Investitionen tätigen, um erforderliche Nachbesserungen am A400M
auf den Weg zu bringen, schreibt das Ministerium.
AR Kognitive Dissonanz
We seem to have no privacy. The
intelligence agencies can access just about everything. This is the
The Internet of Things affects safety. In the old
days, car safety was about hardware. Now you get software updates in
one car after another. A threat to cause millions of cars in America
to turn right and accelerate sharply into the nearest building,
bringing traffic to a standstill in all American cities, is an
The Internet brings three steps forward
and one step back. The industry is rather bad at recognizing the
backward steps. It tends to hope that other people will clean up its
The UK government made a serious mistake when it let
GCHQ break into Belgacom in order to wiretap the European
Commission. That seriously annoyed the Eurocrats. There are hazards
involved in lowering the threshold for conflict.
we have seen the progressive adoption of social media techniques and
messaging. In the Scottish referendum in 2014, nationalists hounded
and abused people in favor of remaining in the UK. We saw the same
thing in the Brexit referendum in the UK.
These are problems
we shall be wrestling with for the next decade.
AR Cherries picked from an Edge
2017 May 8
The landslide victory of Emmanuel Macron
gives Europe hope. France faced a clear choice between EZ reform or
quitting. This election was about the future of France in Europe.
France and Germany have similar labor productivity and have had
similar economic performance since 2000. But Macron will need to get
French debt down from 100% of GDP to the EU target of 60%, as
Germany will by 2020. Fortunately, the EZ economy is in a mild
AR EZ union
will be a home run for Western ideals.
Brextremists make ten strategic
1 The UK is not
so united: The people of Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland can
only dream of a similar level of cohesion on Brexit within the UK as
in the EU-27.
have always sought to divide and conquer Europe. But the frontal
attack on Poles in the UK last summer offended Poland, a potential
ally against the EU.
Brextremists take pride in misjudging EU realities from pure
arrogance. Their misunderstanding and contempt for the EU met its
nemesis in EU-27 unity on Brexit.
Their dream of a special deal between Theresa May and Angela Merkel
was always a long shot. Merkel is far too cautious to let the UK
start picking cherries.
say the UK is in much better economic shape than the EZ. But the UK
economic outlook is stormy, while the much maligned EZ economy is
6 Brextremists failed
to see that Brexit would weld the EU together. Brexit is a gift from
the gods to the EU, which lacked a deterrent against leaving until
7 The threat of a hard
Brexit is a spectacular own goal. A Brexit with no agreement hurts
first and foremost the UK.
EU members think the EU is stronger with the UK. They hope the UK
will relent and see reason. Germans want allies and have no desire
to appease Brextremists.
Theresa May says EU-27 unanimity on Brexit increases uncertainty and
instability for the UK. She sounds like Marine Le Pen.
10 Brextremists are wrong to imagine
that after the French and German elections resistance to UK demands
will collapse and the UK will win.
A partisan perspective, but some hits.
2017 May 7
Emmanuel Macron président de la République
AR Big relief —
French voters have seen reason.
The French Are Better
France is the most visited country in
the world. It is well administered, its roads are among the best in
the world, its public transport systems are incomparable, and it is
Every small town in France has at least one
independent bookshop. One cannot attribute the
high cultural level in France to bookshops alone, but at the least
they help to maintain it. The attention to detail in shops is a
sharp contrast with Britain. All this adds to the enjoyment of life.
France has its problems, too. Its immigrant banlieues are
frightful battery farms of resentment, trafficking, and delinquency.
Its educational system has deteriorated and its modern architecture
is among the worst in the world. Its labour laws, social charges,
regulations, and legal bias inhibit small businesses and seem to
The rigidity of the labour market leads to
higher unemployment, but the difficulty of getting rid of
an employee gives the employer an incentive to train him to be more
efficient. And the French are efficient: far fewer of them working
far fewer hours produce at least as much as the British.
French, like us all, have their vices. They are the most abominable
hypocrites about money. They talk equality and exude avarice and
envy. Their snobbery is as bad as ours. But we should not exaggerate
their woes, the better to avoid confronting our own.
2017 May 6
Quantum information theorists say
information is physical. When energy spreads from hot objects to
cold ones, particles become entangled and information spreads
between them. Since information is conserved, if entropy reflects an
information snapshot of a system, the universe can evolve yet always
have a global entropy of zero.
Imagine a big bath of
particles that possess energy and angular momentum. This bath is
coupled to a weight, for energy, and a turntable, for angular
momentum. Normally, to do work you need hot and cold reservoirs. But
a reservoir containing multiple conserved quantities follows
In the big bath system, you can trade
between conserved quantities like energy and angular momentum. The
weight can rise as the turntable slows, or vice versa, using the
qubits describing the energy and rotation states as a currency.
Trading conserved quantities like this is a new idea.
AR Entropy is obviously relative to a
snapshot — this is the good part of QBism.
The wavefunction of a system encodes
the probabilities for the outcomes of any measurements an observer
might perform on it. The wavefunction probabilities are Bayesian and
are updated as new data come to light. The wavefunction describes
the observer's perspective.
Quantum Bayesianism solves many
mysteries. Collapse of the wavefunction is simply the observer
updating a data snapshot after making a measurement. Spooky action
at a distance also reflects the update of a snapshot. QBism treats
the wavefunction as a description of a snapshot.
AR This is my take on QBism — Fuchs'
take is mostly nonsense, imho.
2017 May 5
In Europe, recent trends have elevated an
educated upper class while separating it from a declining and
fragmenting working class. A growing immigrant population serves
this upper class while seeming to compete with downscale natives for
jobs, housing, and social benefits.
Europe is stuck with a
flawed experiment in political economy, a common currency without a
common fiscal policy or a central political authority to claim
legitimacy. The damage that this combination has done to the
economies of Southern Europe is striking and severe.
has sub-replacement fertility. A continent of historic states
without a strong assimilative tradition is attempting to integrate
an immigrant population that differs dramatically from its natives.
Part of this immigrant population is tempted by jihadist ideologies.
European governance has a democratic deficit. The EU ruling
class relies on illiberal methods to maintain the peace. Elite EU
politics seems to believe that the important thing is to concentrate
every effort on delegitimizing and defeating critics rather than
Right-wing populists are not outliers in an
otherwise harmonious and liberal Europe. It is not right-wing
authoritarians but the great and good of Brussels and Berlin who
have shown consistent contempt for the popular will. The European
Union has problems its leadership cannot or will not solve.
2017 May 4
L'euro et la peur
Marine Le Pen: "L'euro, c'est
la monnaie des banquiers, ce n'est pas la monnaie du peuple .. c'est
la raison pour laquelle il faut que l'on arrive à s'arracher à cette
monnaie .. les Français auront une monnaie dans leur portefeuille,
une monnaie qui permettra de retrouver un niveau adapté de notre
économie et de partir à la conquête du monde."
Macron: "Une grande entreprise ne pourra pas payer en euros d'un
côté et payer ses salariés de l'autre en francs. Ca n'a jamais
existé, madame Le Pen. C'est du grand n'importe quoi."
Pen: "L'économie britannique ne s'est jamais aussi bien portée que
depuis que les Britanniques ont décidé de reprendre leur liberté."
Macron: "La grande peur, qui la manipule depuis le début? C'est
vous. Qui joue sur les peurs? C'est vous. La grande prêtresse de la
peur, elle est en face de moi."
In a busy life, our activity
separates us from our deeper selves. With our smartphones and
computer screens, we often remain caught on the surface of our
lives, drowning in soulless materialism.
Over the years I
have developed a number of simple practices that bring together
action and a quality of mindfulness that can nourish our lives in
hidden ways. Activities like mindful walking or cooking with love
and attention can reconnect us with life in its beauty and wonder.
One of these practices is cleaning.
The art of cleaning is a
simple spiritual activity that is often overlooked. Cleaning a
table, dusting a shelf, I give attention and love, because
everything responds to love and care. When I clean I am also caring
for what is around me, knowing that it, too, needs to be loved.
I love to clean. In cleaning my living space I am clearing up
debris that clutters our life more than we realize. Just as ritual
bathing prepares the worshipper, or just as we may take off our
shoes at the entrance to a temple or mosque, cleaning is an
important preparation for living with the sacred in our daily life.
We need to learn how to clear up after ourselves. To give space
to the divine, to return to the sacred, we need to relearn how to
live lightly, to leave as little debris behind us as we can.
2017 May 3
The EU will bar Theresa May from negotiating Brexit with other
EU leaders. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told
her that under the EU mandate European Commission chief negotiator
Michel Barnier would run the talks on behalf of the EU.
EU figures seem to think talking with UK Brexit minister David Davis
is pointless. They could substitute EU deputy negotiator Sabine
Weyand for Barnier to give May a graceful way out.
line: The EU is ready to up the UK Brexit bill to €100
AR Either the tone of
the proceedings improves or the UK is doomed.
Theresa May says Jean-Claude Juncker will be
the next person to find she can be a "bloody difficult woman" as
cabinet frustration over the Brexit negotiations mounts.
AR Either this is just posturing for
voters or the UK is doomed.
Logic says those tasked with delivering
Brexit should be those who supported the ludicrous idea in the first
place. But almost everyone who understood international trade backed
Remain. So the ministers now delivering Brexit are:
● Liam Fox — tours the world
as trade secretary to advertise how many principles Britain will
flog off in order to sign trade deals, and motivates British
business by calling it fat and lazy.
● David Davis — has prior
ministerial experience of the EU, but he has no time for doubts
about a hard Brexit, and is relaxed about not assessing the effects
of a Brexit with no deal.
● Boris Johnson — decided to
back Leave after writing one column for Brexit and one for Brussels,
and deciding which one he preferred, mistaking good rhetoric for
AR Either May
accepts harder logic or the UK is doomed.
2017 May 2
Theresa May enjoyed a "very constructive
meeting" with Jean-Claude Juncker, said a UK government spokesman.
But Juncker later told Angela Merkel that May lives in another
galaxy. Merkel then said in the Bundestag that London was under
illusions about Brexit negotiations.
The EU plans to present
a Brexit bill of around €60 billion, but May said the UK does not
have to pay a cent. She also demanded an immediate start to talks on
a future trade deal. The EU first wants to sort out the bill and
clarify the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
Last week the British cited the purdah rule to delay the EU budget.
The rule says that during an election campaign a UK government
cannot enter into any financial obligations that would bind its
successors. Perhaps the EU should postpone all talks until after
Prime Minister, 2019 (not)
Despite the unstinting efforts of
my government, the UK and the EU have been unable to reach an
agreement. I must warn you that difficult times lie ahead. There
will be severe disruption to trade and travel for an extended period
of time, and this could lead to a serious recession. Britain has
made a democratic decision to leave the EU, but the EU has proved
unwilling to accept that decision and negotiate a fair deal.
Instead, it is determined to punish the UK.
politicians seem to believe that they can humiliate Britain and bend
the country to their will. Clearly, they have no knowledge of the
history or nature of the British people. A country that has defeated
Hitler, the Kaiser, Napoleon, and the Spanish Armada has no reason
to fear the bureaucrats of Brussels, or the governments of Malta and
This royal throne of kings, this
This earth of majesty, this seat of
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of
men, this little world,
This precious stone set in
the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
(with thanks to Gideon Rachman)
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron
says France could exit from the EU if it does not reform. He said he
has defended European ideas and policies, but he has to listen to
people who are now extremely angry and impatient. He said he would
seek to make fundamental reforms to the EU and the European project,
and added that it would be fraud if he let the EU remain as is.
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has backed off from
her promised Frexit. She now says she would favor a soft exit — and
only after several months of talks with European partners.
AR My favored scenario: EU heads off
both Frexit and Brexit with commitment to deep reforms.
2017 May 1
Jessica T. Mathews
Asia is home to 4.4 billion people.
China became the world's largest economy (measured by PPP) in 2014.
Its growth has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, financed
the US deficit, and let China massively increase military spending.
President Xi Jinping has built public
support for his view that China is claiming its rightful place as a
world power after more than a century of foreign humiliation.
Communist Party legitimacy no longer rests on ideology but on
economic growth. Xi has launched a vigorous campaign against elite
corruption, conveniently jailing many of his political opponents.
India is growing faster than China but is still far behind.
Culturally and politically, India is facing west. Its relations with
the US have been growing steadily closer since 2000. The success of
Indian immigrants in the US is a powerful factor.
China, and Japan are three of the world’s four largest economies, by
PPP. Though today the US and the EU together remain substantially
larger, their ability to impose order on the world is not what it
once was. But the dominance of the West is driven as much by values
and ideas as by economic and military power.
took the US out of the TPP, which did not include China. A few weeks
later, China sent officials to a meeting of the remaining TPP
members to discuss a new trade regime around China, and not the US.
Trump has made cuts to the State Department, to foreign aid, and to
most international institutions and programs.
Mattis, 2013: "If you don't fund the State Department fully, then I
need to buy more ammunition ultimately."
AR The Hegelian Weltgeist returns to
My beach, Mayday
Poole Conservative Association
chooses its election candidate
#EUCO: Unity in action:
adopt #Article50 Guidelines in
less than 15 minutes.
Die EU bleibt hart
USAF Global Strike Command
launches Minuteman III ICBM
from Vandenberg AFB, CA
AR Target-rich environment
Poll finds 45% of UK voters
agree Britain was wrong
vote to leave the EU,
43% said it was right,
12% don't know.
AR Urgent priority:
und Zukunft ist für uns
Illusion, wenn auch
AR I think
of time is wrong.
Quantum chip in test rig
Spinor visualised as a vector
on a Möbius band: turning
thru a cycle inverts its sign.
is both a model for
quantum spin and a step
2017 April 30
Trump: First 100 Days
The election of Donald Trump has caused a severe case
of global geostrategic whiplash. The number of campaign promises
that have morphed into presidential U-turns is staggering:
China — Trump said he would name China a currency
manipulator, threatened a trade war, questioned the One China
policy, and accused China of being soft on North Korea. After talks
with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Trump reaffirmed the One China
policy, praised Beijing for taking positive steps on North Korea,
and said China is not manipulating its currency.
Egypt — Trump hit it off with Egyptian president Abdel
Fattah el-Sisi when they met. Sisi visited the US to deepen military
cooperation, fight terror, revive his economy, and gain legitimacy.
Germany — Trump had said Angela Merkel made a
catastrophic mistake on migrants, was as bad as Vladimir Putin, and
was trying to take US business. Now Trump says the EU is wonderful
and he is totally in favor of it. He said NATO was obsolete. Now he
says it is not obsolete.
Iran — Trump
planned to take a hard line toward Tehran. When Iran tested
missiles, the harsh US reaction warned Tehran about US strategy on
Iran. The Rouhani administration moderated its behavior. Iranians
view Trump as erratic and hostile toward their republic.
Iraq — The battle to liberate Mosul shows Trump how
hard it is to defeat Daesh extremists. Heavier US and Iraqi
firepower has come at a high cost in civilian casualties. Trump had
toyed with taking Iraqi oil. His administration has decisively shot
down that notion.
Israel — Trump pledged to
move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, dismantle the Iran deal, reduce
funding to the UN, and cut aid to the Palestinians. Yet he wanted to
close a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli
right wing still expects Trump to be a friend.
— Trump still has yet to meet Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto.
Mexicans say they will not pay for the wall, but they fear Trump
could impose taxes as payment. On NAFTA, if a good deal is not
renegotiated, Mexico plans to walk away from the pact.
North Korea — The NK government says North Koreans
are under imminent threat of US attack and uses this threat to
justify its investment in weapons of mass destruction. A clash
between Trump and Kim Jong Un is a recipe for disaster.
Russia — Trump wanted better US-Russian relations
but Vladimir Putin says the level of trust on a working level has
deteriorated. Congress is investigating allegations of Russian
interference in the US presidential election.
— Trump promised a plan to eliminate Daesh. He tried to ban Syrian
refugees from entering the US. He was silent on the civil war, but
after news of a chemical weapons attack in Idlib he suddenly fired
dozens of Tomahawk missiles onto the Shayrat airbase.
Turkey — Trump has taken a softer tone on Turkey.
Ankara responded positively to the Tomahawk strike. Trump
congratulated president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his referendum
UK — Trump held hands with Theresa
May at the White House in January. May wants a close bond for the
sake of the special relationship as Britain prepares for a future
EU Hard Line
European leaders say Brextremists have
completely unreal expectations of a swift trade deal between the UK
and the EU. Over lunch on Saturday, EU leaders took less than a
minute to adopt tough negotiating guidelines.
Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier report a lack of realism
in terms of sequencing and timelines from their talks in London and
say the two sides are far apart. Donald Tusk: "Before discussing the
future we have to sort out our past."
Tusk invited Barnier to
hear other EU leaders. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte: "It is
important that we get agreements as soon as possible on issues like
the Irish border, the divorce bill, we are talking serious money. We
have to talk about citizen's rights."
German finance minister
Wolfgang Schäuble: "There is no free lunch. Britons must know that.
We don't want to weaken Britain. But we also don't want that the
rest of Europe is weakened. Britain should not have advantages after
the exit that other countries don't have."
Belgian premier Charles Michel: "A Brexit for free is
not possible. Maybe the British government will do its utmost to
split the 27 nations and it is trap we need to avoid .. If you are
no longer part of a club, it has consequences."
2017 April 29
NK Missile Fail
North Korea on Saturday launched a ballistic missile
that blew up over land, says US Pacific Command. The missile crashed
within NK territory near Pukchang.
Donald Trump tweeted: "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China
& its highly respected President when it launched, though
unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!"
All options for responding to future
provocations must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial
leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract
North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.
The United States also would much prefer countries and people in
question to own up to their lapses and correct their behavior
themselves. But we will not hesitate to sanction third country
entities and individuals supporting the DPRK's illegal activities.
For too long the international community has been reactive. The
more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it. We must
prefer a negotiated solution to this problem, but we are committed
to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean
My First 100 Days
I loved my previous life. I had so many
things going. Actually, this is more work than my previous life.
I thought it would be easier. I do miss my old life. I like to work,
but this is actually more work.
2017 April 28
Intelligence can be viewed as a process
that converts unstructured information into useful and actionable
knowledge. The scientific promise of artificial intelligence (AI) is
that we may be able to synthesize, automate, and optimize that
At DeepMind, we developed the AlphaGo program that
beat a top player at the game of Go. With
10^170 possible board
configurations, Go is insoluble by brute-force methods. We used deep neural networks to build a
learning system, and showed it thousands of strong amateur games.
Then we had it play against different versions of itself thousands
of times, learning from its mistakes and improving. More than 200
million people watched AlphaGo win its victory.
In the next
few years, scientists and researchers using similar approaches will
generate insights in a multitude of areas. AI is analogous to the
Hubble telescope — a scientific tool that allows us to see farther
and better understand the universe. AI can play a
role in supporting experts by identifying
patterns and sources that can escape human eyes alone. This
collaboration between people and algorithms will propel scientific
progress over the next few decades.
Physics and neuroscience
are in some ways the most fundamental subjects. Between them they
AR I agree —
see my book Mindworlds.
2017 April 27
US senators attended a meeting on North Korea at the
White House. Members of both parties said they were reassured by the
Democrat Senator Chris Coons: "It was a
sobering briefing, and an important opportunity for the entire
Senate to hear the emerging plans of the Trump administration."
Republican Senator Bob Corker: "It was an OK briefing."
The 1950-1953 Korean war killed some 2.7 million
Koreans, 800,000 Chinese, and 33,000 Americans. Today President
Trump says US patience with the NK nuclear and missile program has
run out. Pyongyang responds with more bellicose rhetoric.
Koreans know NK artillery batteries can hit Seoul if another
war breaks out. The time from firing a shell to impact in the city
is 45 seconds. Kim Jong Un has fired 66 missiles in tests, has
gradually increased their range, and is working to miniaturize the
NK nuclear arsenal to make warheads. An MRBM with a nuclear payload
could hit South Korea or Japan.
The young man known in China
as Fatty Kim the Third seems serious about being a nuclear power. In speeches, he mentions Korean reunification far more often than his
father did. He could fire 600 chemically armed Scud missiles on all
SK airports, train stations, and marine ports, and launch MRBMs with
chemical warheads at Japan to hinder US reinforcements.
US-SK 2015 war plan OPLAN 5015 includes attacks on NK nuclear and
missile facilities and decapitation attacks against Kim Jong Un and
the rest of the NK leadership. A pre-emptive strike against NK
missiles or nuclear facilities would be unable to take out all the
NK artillery front loaded near the border, but US-SK firepower would
terminate the Kim dynasty.
Pentagon thinking is that it would
be a 4-6 month conflict with high-intensity combat and many dead. In
1994, President Bill Clinton was advised that a war on the peninsula
would likely result in 1 million dead, and nearly $1 trillion of
2017 April 26
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a tale of a father
and son bonding, travelling on a motorcycle on a tour of western
America. It discusses science and mysticism, mind and machine, and
western enlightenment through reason versus eastern enlightenment
Pirsig was born in Minneapolis in 1928.
His father was a law professor of German descent and his mother was
Swedish. At age 9 Robert was assessed to have an IQ of 170 and at
age 15 he entered university. He was expelled for failing grades:
"Science could not teach me how to understand girls sitting in my
In 1946 he joined the army and served in Korea. Then
he studied oriental philosophy in India. Back in Minnesota, he
worked on a newspaper and met Nancy. They married in 1954 and had
two sons. Pirsig wrote technical manuals, bought an old farm, and
started teaching philosophy.
Pirsig went to study in
Chicago, but it soured and he was given electroconvulsive shock
treatment. Writing ZAMM was his salvation. After being turned down
by 121 publishers, it was published in 1974. It sold 5 million
copies. A sequel,
Lila, appeared in 1991. Pirsig: "I felt that Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance was the journey out, and Lila was this trip
AR I loved ZAMM — one of
the few books I've read twice.
2017 April 25
Google had a vision: All the books ever
written could be as instantly accessible as web pages.
project began in 2002 when Larry Page offered the University of
Michigan a deal: Let us borrow all your books and we'll scan them
for you. In just over a decade, after making deals with numerous
library systems, Google had scanned about 25 million books, at a
cost of $400 million.
Authors and publishers complained. They
filed a class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of everyone
with a US copyright interest in a book. Only about half the books
published between 1923 and 1963 are in the public domain, and no one
knows which half.
The Authors Guild agreed on a collective
licensing regime for out-of-print books. Authors and publishers
could opt out their books at any time. For the rest, Google would
display and sell their books, but 63% of the revenues would go into
escrow with a Book Rights Registry.
The agreement set the
terms for a public utility to be deployed on terminals to local
libraries nationwide. But many feared what had happened to the
academic journal market: The Google Books price would be fair at
first, then once libraries and universities were hooked it would
rise. The Department of Justice said the settlement would give
Google a monopoly.
Now Google has a database of 25 million
books that no one is allowed to read.
Google is working on building
a quantum chip that performs a calculation beyond the reach of a
conventional computer. The chip will race a supercomputer to prove
Quantum chips crunch not bits but qubits. Researchers
have so far demonstrated quantum computing with only small groups of
qubits. Google will need a grid of 49 qubits for its "quantum
supremacy" experiment, but its latest chip has only 6 qubits. Quantum
processors would need to crunch many more than 50 qubits to do
The experiment could become a benchmark for a
working quantum computer. It has already helped managers at Google
see that the technology is on its way.
rules work extremely well. But there are still open questions
regarding the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Some scientists
aim to develop alternative versions of the mathematical rules to
gain new insight into the underlying reality.
In standard quantum mechanics, the rules
use complex numbers. An alternative theory uses hyper-complex
numbers, which are a generalization of complex numbers.
Hyper-complex rules can replicate most of the predictions of the
standard rules, but some operations that commute in standard quantum
mechanics do not commute in a hyper-complex world.
A team tested for deviations from standard quantum
mechanics predicted by hyper-complex rules. An interferometer allowed
a photon to travel both ways around a loop at the same time. Their
loop included a normal optical material and a specially designed
metamaterial. The normal optical material slowed down the photons,
whereas the metamaterial sped them up.
The rules of standard
quantum mechanics say light behaves the same whether it first passes
through a normal material and then through a metamaterial or vice
versa — the effects of the two materials commute. In a hyper-complex
world, they might not. The team verified that hyper-complex
rules are not needed in this case.
That's a relief — the complex rules are complicated enough.
2017 April 24
Emmanuel Macron v Marine Le Pen
Emmanuel Macron looks likely to beat
Marine Le Pen in the second round of French elections on May 7.
A centrist who supports open markets and France staying in the EU,
he took 23.75% in the first-round vote, ahead of Ms Le Pen at 21.53%
(definitive results as of 0702 ET).
The euro jumped 2 cents
against the US dollar as the results were confirmed, pushing above
$1.09 (with the pound at $1.27 / €1.17).
Un immense gâchis
Ainsi donc, l'imperdable a
été perdu. L'impensable s'est imposé. L'impossible est advenu. La
droite, qui pendant cinq ans aura étrillé les socialistes dans tous
les scrutins, la droite, dont les idées et les valeurs n'ont jamais
été aussi majoritaires dans les profondeurs du pays, cette droite à
qui la victoire ne pouvait pas échapper a été, hier, sèchement
éliminée. Alors que le désir d'alternance, après un quinquennat
unanimement jugé calamiteux, n'a jamais été aussi puissant, elle ne
sera pas, pour la première fois de son histoire, représentée au
second tour de l'élection présidentielle.
2017 St George's Day
En Marche! La France
Estimations sofres à 20h00, 1er tour en % des suffrages
23% Emmanuel Macron, 23% Marine Le Pen
Planet Over Presidency
We have only a short window to deal with
the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart
In Paris in 2015, leaders pledged to
try to hold global warming to 1.5 K. But at current rates of burning
coal, gas, and oil, we are on course to overheating.
was that growth in renewable energy would begin to close the gap
between what physics demands and what our political systems have so
But President Trump will slow that momentum.
The effects will be felt for many years.
The effects of climate change policy are forever.
USS Carl Vinson
"We are sending an armada,
very powerful. We have
far more powerful than the
that I can tell
you. And we have the best
military people on
2017 Earth Day
Fast Radio Bursts
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) last just a few
milliseconds, but they are the most luminous radio signals in the
universe. When a repeating FRB
was spotted, the extragalactic magnetar model became the most
Astronomers spotted a flash that made eight
reappearances, originating in a dwarf irregular galaxy about 1 Gpc
away. The data seems consistent with the magnetar theory. Magnetars
generally form from Type-I superluminous supernovas, which appear
relatively often in dwarf irregular galaxies.
of stars since the Big Bang has increased the metallicity of the
universe. But dwarf irregular galaxies formed from primordial
hydrogen and helium. Their low metallicity lets them make more
massive stars, which die to form highly magnetized neutron stars, or
Brian Metzger guesses that the repeater is a young
magnetar, a newborn neutron star, probably less than 3 Gs old, with
a powerful and unstable magnetic field that pumps energy into the
expanding cloud of supernova debris, which absorbs the energy and
occasionally releases FRBs.
Another idea is that FRBs are
emitted by active galactic nuclei (AGNs). AGNs are thought to be
powered by supermassive black holes, and many of them have jets that
could beam FRBs into space. But AGNs usually exist in bigger
galaxies, not dwarfs.
We need more data.
2017 April 21
Leaning on China to pressure North Korea
could fail. Then Donald Trump gets mad and destroys an NK test
missile on its launchpad with a barrage of cruise missiles. Result:
a new Korean war.
North Korea might respond by firing
artillery at Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people. The NK
regime would be destroyed, but the country has a huge army and
missiles that can reach Tokyo. A war could cause a million
casualties and $1 trillion in damage.
US and South Korean
policies toward North Korea have failed over the years. If Trump
tries a pre-emptive military strike, heaven help us.
David Böcking, Christian Reiermann
minister Wolfgang Schäuble has flown to Washington to report to Team
The German trade surplus is mainly the result of
market decisions made by companies and consumers. The surplus was
8.6% of GDP in 2015 and 8.3% in 2016, and is estimated at 7.5% in
2017 and 7.0% in 2018. Around half of it is due to structural
factors such as the global competitiveness of German vendors and the
quality and complexity of German products.
and private citizens invest abroad to earn profits that account for
a quarter of the current account surplus. German investors hold a
stake in more than 3,000 American companies employing around 672,000
people, accounting for a total turnover of €466 billion. In 2016
alone, $63 billion in German capital flowed into the US. This is due
to US importance to the global economy and to the global role of the
Germany has taken steps to reduce the surplus. A
minimum wage and €11 billion in tax cuts will increase domestic
demand and public investment has increased by 45%. Germany has no
influence on the exchange rate and applies no protectionist
Whether all this will convince Team Trump is
Germany exported goods and services worth about
€100 billion to the UK in 2015, notching up a bilateral trade
surplus of about €40 billion. Direct and indirect German investments
in the UK amount to almost €110 billion. Fewer than 10% of German
companies expect a negative impact from Brexit, mostly from lower
British demand and a weaker pound.
For Germany the integrity
and success of the EU are matters of existential importance. Sophia
Besch and Christian Odendahl: "Berlin ... considers disintegration
of the EU the biggest Brexit risk ... In Germany's view, Brexit is
2017 April 20
Dover and Out
Britain will leave the EU at the
stroke of midnight on March 29, 2019. Theresa May: "This is an
historic moment from which there can be no turning back."
will take the UK out of both the single market and the customs
union. Membership in the single market meant accepting the four
freedoms: freedom of goods, capital, services, and people.
Continuing to embrace that last freedom was a red line for May. She
is equally determined to break free of the jurisdiction of the
European Court of Justice, which means leaving the customs union
Remainers see big holes in the government case. May and
her ministers say they want frictionless free trade with Europe, on
the best possible terms. They want continued close security
cooperation. They want free trade in a world turning to
protectionism. They want Britain to be a global magnet, attracting
people of ambition. That was what the UK had, until they decided to
throw it all away.
2017 April 19
Theresa May is on course to win a majority of more than 100 in a
June snap election, with Labour pro-Brexit voters deserting Jeremy
Corbyn, according to polling data.
"Since when did prime
ministers and party leaders deliver Easter messages? ... Mrs May's
rather bland one ... did suggest a Christian duty to unite in
support of Brexit."
$1 Trillion to Fix US Roads
President Donald Trump will soon reveal his $1
trillion plan to fix everything. But $1 trillion will barely cover
what the Department of Transportation estimates is a $836 billion
backlog in US highway investment needs.
The US road
construction and repair funding system is broke. The Highway Trust
Fund comes from gas and diesel pump taxes, but Congress has not
raised the gas tax since 1993. Congress stabilized funding for a few
years and kicked the can down the road. But in the long term, if
vehicles continue to get more fuel efficient and electric cars catch
on with the US public, the tax revenues will fall.
transportation bill finally funded a study of a road usage tax,
where people pay per mile they drive instead of per gallon they
burn. This could raise as much as $246 billion by 2020. California
has just wrapped up the largest ever US pilot study of a road usage
charge. The great majority of participants thought it was fairer
than a gas tax and liked road charging as a concept.
AR The pay per mile scheme gets my vote
for funding UK roads too.
a few hours after the May statement
helped envision the
of the History
of Polish Jews
US President Donald Trump
wants a ride in the Queen's
coach during his
state visit this year.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft
in the water plumes of Saturn's
The ice shell
has fractures with plumes of
liquid water from a subsurface
ocean containing organics and
dioxide. The hydrogen
is likely produced at hot vents
on the ocean
now looks like our best bet for
The Cassini mission will
end on 2017-09-15.
2017 April 18
I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed
that the Government should call a general election, to be held on
Britain is leaving the European Union and there can
be no turning back. We want a deep and special partnership between a
strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is
free to chart its own way in the world.
We need a general
election now, while the European Union agrees its negotiating
position and before the detailed talks begin.
I first read Ray Kurzweil's book
The Age of Spiritual Machines in 2006. A few years earlier, I
had dropped out of Bible school and stopped believing in God. I was
living alone in Chicago and working nights as a cocktail waitress.
Kurzweil divided all of evolution into successive epochs. We
were living in the fifth epoch, when human intelligence begins to
merge with technology. Soon we would reach the Singularity and be
transformed into spiritual machines. We would resurrect our minds
onto supercomputers and our bodies would become incorruptible.
Transhumanists say they are carrying on the legacy of the
Enlightenment. Most are atheists. Some transhumanists say true
resurrection can happen only if it is bodily resurrection. They tend
to favor cryonics and bionics. The question of whether the
resurrection would be corporeal or merely spiritual was debated by
My doubts about God began after I read The
Brothers Karamazov. I could not reconcile the idea that an
omnipotent and benevolent God could allow so much suffering.
Transhumanism offered redemption without the problems of divine
Oxford philosopher and transhumanist Nick Bostrom
suggested that we live in a Matrix-like simulation and that the
posthumans running it are like gods in relation to us. Simulation
theologists say it is reasonable to assume that our creators are
benevolent because the capacity to build sophisticated technologies
requires rational purpose and social harmony.
Transhumanism Association chairman Christopher Benek told me Jesus
was both fully human and fully God. Science had verified the
potential for matter to have two distinct natures. Superposition, a
principle in quantum theory ...
Cut — Ed.
2017 April 17
Turks voted yes. President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan has won a narrow majority for introducing a presidential
system that puts all the power at the top. After a hundred years of
parliamentary democracy, Turkey will be become a one-man state.
The referendum should never have taken place. Citizens were
forced to decide on a constitutional change during a state of
emergency. Erdogan mobilized the entire state for his campaign yet
won by less than 2%. In the three biggest cities — Istanbul, Ankara,
and Izmir — he lost.
Erdogan can now dissolve
parliament whenever he likes. He can side with one party and can
pick new constitutional judges. He will abolish the post of prime
minister and reintroduce the death penalty.
Europe and Turkey
are partners in NATO and about 3 million Turks live in Germany.
Turkey depends on EU trade, so the EU can exert leverage in
negotiations on deepening the customs union. The EU should work with Turkish civil society and offer refuge to
persecuted journalists and academics.
A year after the Treasury forecast that
leaving the bloc would hit the UK economy hard, economists agree
that the report mostly stands the test of time.
Consumer willingness to spend since the referendum suggests that
they think the government assessment of a permanent long-term hit to
incomes was wrong. Economists still think consumers are likely to be
The Treasury analysis predicted that Brexit
would reduce trade and foreign investment in the UK, reducing the
growth rate. The harder the Brexit, the worse the predicted effect.
The ultimate impact of leaving the EU looks more negative than
MIT economics professor John Van Reenan: "As we get
closer to the end of Article 50 and a hard Brexit looks likely, I
suspect this is when the proverbial will hit the fan."
EU Goes Pear-Shaped
Brexit is a problem for the EU. The
British economy is as big as that of the 20 smallest member states
combined. It is as if those 20 were leaving the EU at once.
Brexit destroys the European equilibrium. In the European Council,
a blocking minority needs 35% of the EU population. The UK and
the Deutschmark bloc (Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and
Finland) have a population of 35%. These countries favor free trade.
The Club Med bloc has a population share of 36%. After Brexit,
the first block shrinks to a share of 25%. Club Med grows to 42%,
and they favor protectionism.
Brexit wrecks the EU and the UK. Well done — NOT!
British Islands, Child Sex
British overseas territories are among the world's
leading hosts of websites with images of child sexual abuse. UK
Council for Child Internet Safety executive member John Carr urged
ministers to intervene to place UK overseas territories under the
same rules as the .uk domain.
All these little British overseas territories, these toxic remnants
of empire, should be offered a choice between subjection to full and
enforced domestic UK law and tax legislation or complete and
unsupported independence. Their present status is disgraceful, an
affront to all decent taxpayers in properly regulated states.
2017 Easter Sunday
No news is good news.
2017 April 15
My father was British and my mother American,
and Jewish. In my youth I railed against all states. I enjoyed the
upside of living in a cosmopolitan city. When I was growing up in
London, people always banged on about how polyglot it was.
Remainers failed to explain how the EU was going to prevent the 1%
getting relentlessly richer. Windy talk of human rights is always an
appeal to the world government, which would be the only institution
capable of enforcing them.
For most of us, the Passover story is a
tale of liberation, in which an oppressed minority rebels and
resists the oppressive might of a wicked regime. But try to see
things from the other side.
The Pharaoh proceeds cautiously
at first, afflicting the Israelites with no more than hard labor.
When that proves to be bad policy, he escalates. By the time Moses
arrives, the remaining Israelites are so thoroughly persecuted they
lose the spirit to rise up. Moses understands that nothing short of
divine intervention can redeem them.
Israel is mired in a
futile struggle against Palestinian terrorism, America is wasting
time on Daesh, Europeans cannot stop Islamist fanatics. We think
each oppressed people, whether afflicted by real burdens or by
imagined slights, will raise itself up. The Egyptians failed to
crush the Israelites — the oppressed will not be crushed.
Follow this argument to its logical end, and your best bet is to try
and appease your enemy. But the Pharaoh story also shows you can
wage a gradually escalating war against your foes and achieve a
victory so crushing that they need divine intervention to survive.
2017 April 14
Germany and Europe
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) faces a
challenge from chancellor candidate Martin Schulz (SPD) and foreign
minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD). They want relaxation of the austerity
demands on southern EU states and want to expand the EU mandate into
a social dimension. European Commission president
Jean-Claude Juncker and many southern EU heads of government want
Merkel is opposed to transferring more social
competencies and money to Brussels. Her circle wants reforms and
competitiveness, citing polls showing a clear majority of Germans
opposed to more aid for Athens. Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble
and his counterparts in other EU member states want further
austerity in Athens.
Gabriel thinks it was a mistake to let
Merkel set EU policy: "There is significant support for Europe on
the center-left. I think it is possible to win an election on
appeals for a more socially minded Europe ... We Social Democrats
are in favor of an EU pursuing the harmonization of living
A Foreign Ministry paper on pillars of social
rights advocates more money for education, mobility and research,
and more EU money for the fight against youth unemployment to boost
development in poorer regions. EPP parliamentarian Manfred
Weber: "A campaign focused on Europe is fine with us. We have the
support of many voters."
European Commission proposals for a
European pillar of social rights include a comprehensive package of
social rights to create equal opportunity on the job market along
with minimum salaries, unemployment benefits, and health care.
Gabriel's campaign lets Merkel sit between the extremes as the voice of
Britain and Europe
Brexit is bad news. At best, the UK and the
EU27 will reach an agreement they both believe serves their
interests reasonably well. At worst, Britain risks a disorderly
The UK seeks a deep and special partnership with the EU
after Brexit. It hopes to protect the rights of EU citizens living
in Britain and UK citizens living in EU member states. It wants a
soft border in Northern Ireland, free trade in goods with minimal
customs barriers, an ambitious services trade agreement, and
security and policing cooperation.
The EU27 seeks guarantees
for citizens and a good solution for Ireland, but otherwise starts
out from the status quo. Since the EU is happy with Britain as a
member state, it seeks compensation from the UK for damaging
Britain starts from a fantasy in which the UK is
already outside the EU and seeking a better relationship, while the
EU 27 is grounded in reality. Britain will have to budge.
Brits must face the facts. May will do her best. The EU demand for a
financial divorce settlement is reasonable. Gibraltar cannot get the
same EU deal as the UK.
2017 April 13
President Donald Trump on NATO: "I said it was
obsolete; it's no longer obsolete."
In a WSJ interview, Trump
praised Chinese president Xi Jinping, backed down a threat to brand
China a currency manipulator, and eased off on his demands for China
to reverse the trade imbalance with the United States.
decried Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a "butcher" and might
now advocate regime change.
Trump: "Right now we are not
getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in
terms of relationship with Russia."
He even publicly
criticized his political guru Steve Bannon.
A wild first 100
The Science of Consciousness
5-10, San Diego, California
The 2017 conference was
scheduled in Shanghai, China, June 5-10, but due to unforeseen
circumstances is moving to The Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine,
near the UCSD campus.
TSC is the world's largest and
longest-running interdisciplinary conference on all aspects of the
nature of conscious experience, awareness, feelings and existence.
Questions include how the brain produces consciousness, whether
consciousness is intrinsic to the universe, or an epiphenomenal
illusion, how consciousness can causally affect brain processes,
what are the best empirical theories, do we have free will, how did
life and consciousness originate and evolve, what are the origins of
moral and aesthetic values, how can we improve mental, physical and
cognitive function, and can consciousness persist after bodily
death. These are approached through science, philosophy, culture,
and contemplative practices.
TSC began at the University of
Arizona in Tucson in 1994, and returns there in even-numbered years,
alternating with TSC conferences around the globe.
AR I was at Tucson in 2000 and 2002, as
well as at the TSC meetings in Denmark in 1997, Sweden in 2001, and
the Czech Republic in 2003. I also liked the
in Bremen in 1998, Oxford in 2006, and Berlin in 2009.
"We will hold the US wholly
accountable for the catastrophic
consequences to be entailed
by its outrageous actions."
China moves 150,000 troops
and medical supplies to
Jupiter, 668 Gm away
"Political imagination seems
exhausted. Not one major party
the US or the UK offers our
children something their
grandparents didn't have."
"Bannon is just a conniving
hateful bloated punk who
President Trump removed
Steve Bannon from the NSC
and restored senior military
and intelligence officials,
in a change arranged by
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
AR Good work, Mac.
"The choice of the British
that may be, does not fit
into the march of
— not European history
and not global history."
Wins ACM Turing Prize
I talked with him
Gail Campbell, 2017
Nurse: "Jesus Christ had only
but look at you!
You're clearly a very important
man. What do
Parfit: "I work on
2017 April 12
Ghost in the Shell
The groundbreaking 1995 original Ghost in
the Shell, based on a manga series by Masamune Shirow, was a
masterpiece. The Hollywood remake has dialled down the
introspection, beefed up the action, and tweaked the enigmatic plot.
The result is not so dumbed down that it loses the original
chilly techno-dread. Scarlett Johansson dives deep into a tricky role, a
character who is as much a sentient weapon as she is a human
consciousness. The visual impact is breathtaking.
AR Despite the Hollywood action format,
the philosophical issues about human or cyborg identity come over
clearly. The future cityscape is richly imagined and chillingly
plausible. And Johansson as Japanese is amusing.
The New York Times
Modern London is the metropolis that
globalization created. London is banker to the planet. It is as much
city-state as city, with a culture and economy that circulate the
Modern London thrives on the idea
that one city can be a global melting pot, a global trading house,
and a global media machine. The thought is that being connected to
the rest of the world is something to celebrate.
to London when that idea unexpectedly falls away? Brexit is probably
the noisiest and most complicated divorce in modern European
history. The certainties that sustained a great city are no longer
Those who voted for Britain to leave the European
Union say London is reclaimed. But banks, investment firms, and
other companies are making plans to move elsewhere.
AR From potential capital of Europe to
actual capital of a rocky outcrop.
2017 April 11
Carrying more than 5,000 sailors and 60 aircraft, the
Nimitz-class carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is heading for North
Korea. She is escorted by guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E.
Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake
Champlain. The three escort warships have more than 300 combined
missile tubes and are outfitted with the Aegis ABM system.
Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute in
"The Carl Vinson group is commanded from
Hawaii, rather than the US military base in Japan, so it's a clear
American initiative not a Japanese or South Korea one. That may
defuse attempts to link Japan and South Korea and thus limit the
possibility of any North Korean aggression against them."
Former CIA and NSA head retired General Michael Hayden:
matter what we do there is this move by North Korea to build
missiles and put weapons on top of missiles. This is what they count
on for regime survival. ... The best we can do is box it where it is
right now. I don't think we can make them give up the program."
2017 April 10
Researchers have found that the dreaming
brain and the waking brain often recruit the same areas for the same
types of experience. Dreaming about faces is linked to increased
high-frequency activity in the brain region for face recognition,
and so on.
Francesca Siclari and colleagues made a series of EEG recordings
of participants who were sleeping. The participants were awakened
periodically and asked if they had been dreaming. If they had, they
were asked how long they thought the dream had lasted and what they
could remember of it.
The researchers linked dreaming to a
drop in low-frequency activity in a cortical hot zone including
visual areas and areas involved in sensory integration. This held
regardless of whether the dream was remembered or not and whether it
occurred during REM or non-REM sleep.
The researchers also
linked dreaming to an increase in high-frequency activity in the hot
zone during non-REM sleep and linked dream recall to an increase in
high-frequency activity toward the forebrain. They saw similar
activity in the hot zone and beyond for dreams during REM sleep.
The team learned to predict dreaming from the EEG trace with
high confidence. The study could help clarify the nature of
consciousness by revealing what happens in the brain during sleep
when we switch from unconscious to conscious states.
2017 April 9
President Donald Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles against a
Syrian airfield in Homs. I think we can now discern the beginning of
an improvement in US foreign policy.
The head of the Russian
propaganda outlet RT observed darkly that the airstrikes had been
ordered on the centenary of the US entry into WW1.
Woodrow Wilson opted for intervention in Europe. He chose to tip the
scales in favor of Britain and France. He had a strategy.
Trump has shown the world that a new sheriff is in town. He has
shown Chinese President Xi Jinping that he will not shirk from using
force against North Korea.
This does not amount to a coherent
strategy to stabilize the Mideast.
The Wilson strategy led to WW2.
The Rock imported 117 million packs of
cigarettes in 2013. This epic Russian smuggling operation may have
cost EU countries €700 million in lost tax revenues.
Gibraltar used to be a naval garrison blockaded by Spain. When the
money dried up with the end of the cold war, the Rock had to
diversify. Like other British colonies, it did so by aggressively
undercutting the rules and taxes of its neighbors.
more than 60,000 companies registered in Gibraltar. These undermine
the UK as much as everyone else. A recent Gib growth industry has
been online gambling.
Gibraltar is loyal, it guards the gates
to the Med, it loves Britain and the Queen. This is like a kid who
visits his gran every weekend, just so he can nick her pension.
AR Give it
back to Spain.
2017 April 8
David Bohm developed a quantum theory
in which a wave with properties identical to that of the standard
wave function guides particles around. In his picture, if particles
are entangled, a common pilot wave guides them, and any change in
the position or momentum of one particle instantly changes the pilot
wave, thus influencing all the other particles.
In a new
double-slit experiment, researchers created pairs of photons with
entangled polarizations, and sent one photon of each pair through a
double slit that would let a vertically polarized photon through
slit A and a horizontally polarized photon through slit B. Measuring
the polarization of the second photon revealed the polarization of
the photon passing through the slits.
The team determined the
path of the traveling photon as it went through the apparatus and
measured the polarization state of the associated probe photon. They
did this with tens of thousands of photon pairs, and found that, on
average, at the moment a photon passed through slit A, the probe
photon would be vertically polarized, as expected. When a traveling
photon was measured at a position on the screen corresponding to
having passed through slit A, half the time the polarization of the
probe photon was horizontal, suggesting that the traveling photon
had passed through slit B.
The experiment shows that the
moving photon is constantly changing the polarization of the probe
photon. Look at the probe photon at the moment the moving photon
goes through a slit, and there is no contradiction. But look at it
the moment the moving photon hits the screen and, half of the time,
its polarization state has changed. Bohmian theory accepts this
Bohmian mechanics is formulated to replicate the
predictions of standard quantum mechanics for non-relativistic
particles. By contrast, quantum field theory is Lorentz invariant.
Attempts to marry Bohmian ideas with special relativity still fail.
AR Locality fails in Bohmian
mechanics, so it offers no advantage over standard quantum theory,
just a lot of traditional metaphysical baggage that physicists
should learn to drop. My interpretation is closer to Copenhagen but
better adapted to general relativity and information theory.
2017 April 7
Trump Raises the Stakes
Dennis B. Ross
President Trump's decision to launch 59
Tomahawk cruise missiles against Al Shayrat air base in Syria was
swift and purposeful. The United States has sent a powerful message
that there is a price for using chemical weapons.
AR His baptism of fire.
Die Welt gerät
aus den Fugen. UK
governments had stuck to their promises, delivered to their allies,
and been diplomatically astute. But now the UK seems to have gone
mad. The prime minister gave the job of foreign secretary to a man
who campaigned for Brexit and who compared the EU to the Nazi
The European Research Group is the most powerful
opposition force in British politics. The group wants a hard Brexit:
little or no severance money to the EU, little or no jurisdiction
from the European Court, a gung-ho up-yours stance on relationships
with the single market, and impatience with those who dislike their
Two weeks ago the Daily Telegraph published a letter
from 70 MPs demanding that the BBC tell the good news about Brexit.
In the last week MPs have played a kind of Monty Python sketch of
competitive bragging, where one says we won't pay anything and
another adds: "Never mind paying nothing, they should pay us!"
ERG people are busy talking with themselves about what a good
position we are all in. One said the EU negotiators won't really
insist on getting their money before talking about trade. In a
normal parliament a strong opposition could act as a corrective to
this sort of fantasy. How can our EU partners take it seriously?
AR If the UK sets itself against the
EU, only one of the unions will survive. Place your bets: a little
old union with toytown politics, medieval institutions, and a broken
economy takes on a big new one with an unparalleled cultural
heritage, modern political institutions, and one of the strongest
economies in the world.
The Age of Genius
In 1633, René Descartes learned that
Galileo had been convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church and
punished with a life sentence of house arrest. Descartes was shaken
enough to suppress a treatise he had written based on the
heliocentric model of Copernicus. Something special happened in
philosophy in the seventeenth century, and especially in natural
The New Philosophy was characterized by
a reliance on reason and evidence rather than devotion to religious
or ancient authority. Truth was a matter of discovery, not decree.
Philosophy pursued causal explanations of phenomena based on
experiment and mathematics. Popular accounts of modern philosophy
typically start with Descartes, who in 1637 said cogito ergo sum.
2017 April 6
My White House Role
I think there are multiple ways to have your
voice heard. Where I disagree with my father, he knows it. And I
express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and
support the agenda and make a positive impact. But I respect the
fact that he always listens. It's how he was in business. It's how
he is as president.
I am confident in my father to be able to
execute on his promise to the people who elected him. I think the
election highlighted for people just how divided this country was.
We're in a unique time where noise equals, in a lot of people's
perception, advocacy. And I fundamentally disagree with that. I do
think there's a time for public denouncement. I also think there's a
time for discussion.
I wasn't elected by the American people
to be president. My father is gonna do a tremendous job. And I wanna
help him do that. But I don't think that it will make me a more
effective advocate to constantly articulate every issue publicly
where I disagree. I think most of the impact I have, over time, most
people will not actually know about.
If being complicit is
wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then
I'm complicit. I don't know that the critics who may say that of me,
if they found themselves in this unique and unprecedented situation
that I am now in, would do any differently than I'm doing. So I hope
to make a positive impact. I hope time will prove that I have done a
good job and, much more importantly, that my father's administration
is the success that I know it will be.
AR Sounds good to me.
2017 April 5
German President Attacks Brextremism
German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier
told MEPs in the European Parliament that the Brextremists would be
unable to deliver on their promise to take back control.
said he was convinced that in this world a single European country
standing alone and without the EU cannot make its voice heard or
assert its economic interests. Only as partners on the world stage
can Europeans avoid becoming the playthings of other powers.
He said Brextremist promises would come to nothing, "Take back
control" is a strong slogan but nationalists are unable to deliver
it, and if it can be delivered then it is something we can only do
He described the UK vote to leave as "bitter" and
said Germany fully supported the European project. He dismissed
Donald Trump's claims the EU was a vehicle for German economic
In English, Steinmeier added: "In my country, yes,
we want Europe. We want to build a better Europe and we want to be a
European People's Party bloc leader
Manfred Weber: "Some of the politicians in London have not
understood what leaving the European Union means. It means being
British leader of Conservative MEPs Ashley Fox: "The
European Parliament claims to represent all the citizens of the EU,
and until we leave that includes UK citizens. Therefore,
Conservative MEPs intend to continue playing a full role in all
debates, including discussions on Brexit. To suggest otherwise is
both unconstitutional and undemocratic."
Exit vom Brexit
Ein Widerruf der Austrittsmitteilung durch
die Briten dürfte nur unter Bedingungen, die von allen
Mitgliedstaaten der EU-27 festgelegt werden, möglich sein.
Rechtsdienst des Europaparlaments: "Es herrscht weitgehende
Einigkeit, dass der Austrittsprozess gestoppt werden könnte, wenn
alle anderen Mitgliedstaaten zustimmen."
Gerichtshof müsste entscheiden.
EuGH — von Brextremisten verflucht!
2017 April 4
Germans sometimes call Brits
Inselaffen — island monkeys — unpredictable, backward, quarrelsome,
and isolated. The term has boomed since Brexit.
At the annual
Königswinter conference last weekend, British participants tried to
outline a new post-Brexit Anglo-German relationship. The best line
was that Brexit was a resolution, not a dissolution. Instead of
moaning about EU integration, Britain would now engage
on things like security.
● The Balkans are awash with
Russian influence and jihadists.
● Europe has failed in Syria,
in Libya, and in the Mideast.
● Turkey is descending
headlong into autocracy.
● NATO deterrence in the
Baltic states is still fragile.
● The war in Ukraine bubbles
● Democracy and the rule of
law are under strain.
Serious shit, as one German said.
Germany and Britain complement each other. Germany is the
economic giant, Britain is the leading military and intelligence
power. German defense
spending may not reach 2% of GDP, but it may hit 3% on defense and
conflict prevention combined.
Britain objects to an ECJ ruling that would prohibit GCHQ from
collecting and storing internet data. Brexit will solve that problem
for the Inselaffen.
EU draft negotiating document on Brexit: "After the
United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the
United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the
agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom."
That prompted fury in Britain. Former Conservative party leader
Lord Michael Howard: "I do think it is a remarkable coincidence that
35 years ago this week another woman prime minister sent a task
force half way across the world to protect another small group of
British people against another Spanish speaking country."
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: "I think the position of the
government is very, very clear, which is that the sovereignty of
Gibraltar is unchanged, and it's not going to change and cannot
conceivably change without the express support and consent of the
people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, and that is not going to
Spain called for cool heads. Foreign Minister
Alfonso Dastis: "Frankly, it seems to me that someone in the United
Kingdom is losing their temper."
Gibraltar is classified as a
British Overseas Territory. The UK has held sovereignty over
Gibraltar for more than 300 years after it was captured from Spain
in a war. In a 2002 referendum Gibraltar residents rejected a
proposal to share the territory between the UK and Spain, but in the
2016 referendum 96% of them voted to stay in the European Union.
Between a Rock and a Hard Brexit
Gibraltar is a remnant of the British
Empire. Spain will not forget about the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht that
assigned the Rock to the UK.
The Kingdom of Spain is soon to
be the fourth largest EU economy and has the backing of the entire
European Union. The Brexit choice may be between:
— A good deal
for the UK and Gibraltar shared with Spain
— A hard and hostile
Brexit plus a blockade of Gibraltar
The UK will also need to
be mindful of its base on EU member Cyprus.
Großbritannien verliert die Contenance
Der Vorschlag, in den Krieg gegen Spanien zu
ziehen, stammt aus Michael Howard. Der ehemalige Vorsitzende der
Konservativen Partei, der sich seit sieben Jahren Baron Howard of
Lympne nennen darf, brachte den Krieg von seinem Wohnzimmersofa aus
Gibraltar ist nur halb so groß wie die
Falklandinseln, besitzt aber etwa 30.000 Einwohnern. Vor etwa
300 Jahren fiel der Fels in britische Hand. Die spanische
Bevölkerung wurde vertrieben. Der Landzipfel ist dem breiteren
Publikum vor allem als notorische Steueroase ein Begriff.
Spanien hat den Schotten nun weiteren Auftrieb verschafft: Madrid
hat seine bisherige Opposition zum EU-Beitritt eines unabhängigen
Schottlands gerade aufgeben. Gibraltar hat mehrheitlich gegen den
Brexit gestimmt: 96% der Bevölkerung waren gegen den Austritt.
Madrid hat sich zurückgehalten. Außenminister Alfonso Dantis:
"Die spanische Regierung ist ein wenig überrascht über den Ton, den
Großbritannien anschlägt. In diesem Fall mangelt es eindeutig an der
traditionellen britischen Contenance."
AR Ein Hauch von deutscher Schadenfreude da!
2017 April 3
I have great respect for Xi Jinping. I have
great respect for China. China has great influence over North Korea.
And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they
won't. If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.
Look where we are. We have an $800 billion trade deficit. The
Mideast is a mess. This is a very, very serious problem that we have
in the world today. The United States has talked long enough and you
see where it gets us, it gets us nowhere.
I think Brexit is
very good for the UK. I would have thought when it happened that
more would follow, but I really think the European Union is getting
their act together. It could be a very good thing for both. There is
a different spirit for holding together.
In July 2014, German statistician
Thomas Royen proved a famous conjecture at the intersection of
geometry, probability theory, and statistics that had eluded experts
The Gaussian correlation inequality (GCI) was
posed in an elegant form in 1972. Royen, 67, found it could be
extended into a statement he was familiar with, and suddenly saw how
to prove it.
His proof was short and simple. He typed it up
and posted it to arxiv.org. False proofs of the GCI had been floated
repeatedly over the decades, so at first his achievement went
In its 1972 form, the GCI puts a lower bound on
the odds in a game of darts. Imagine two overlapping convex polygons
A and B centered on a target point. Darts thrown at the target will
land in a bell curve distribution of positions around the center
point. The GCI says the probability that a dart will land inside
both A and B is at least as high as the probability of landing in A
times the probability of landing in B. The same inequality was
thought to hold for any two convex symmetrical shapes with any
number of dimensions centered on a point.
Royen found he
could generalize the GCI to apply to statistical spreads related to
the squares of Gaussian distributions, called gamma distributions.
His familiarity with gamma distributions sparked his epiphany. He
transformed his function into a simpler function and saw that the
derivative of this transformed function was equivalent to the
transform of the derivative of the original function. The latter
derivative was always positive, proving the GCI. Experts say any
graduate student in statistics could follow his proof.
"It is like a kind of grace. We can work for a long time on a
problem and suddenly ... a good idea."
2017 April 2
Brexit will be much more protracted and expensive than the worst
imaginable divorce. Both sides: "Never again will those impossible
people on the other side of the Channel be able to interfere in our
affairs. Now we can take back control and sit back and watch their
union fall apart."
Schisme est le mot
juste — recall the great division between western and
eastern Christianity in 1054. As Rome was to past schisms, so
Brussels is to this one.
Britain was always a brake on
European federalism. Now the EU27 can unite in giving the UK a hard
time. Brextremists see an economic 1940, with a global Britain
striking out anew.
AR May the
force be with EU in year 77 of the fight for FUK.
2017 April 1
Quantum theory and modern mathematics
complement each other to reveal symmetries in reality.
Classical mechanics may compute how a particle
travels from A to B along a geodesic. Quantum mechanics considers
all possible paths from A to B. The Feynman sum over histories
assigns to each path a weight that determines the probability that a
particle will go that way. The classical solution is simply the most
Calabi-Yau spaces are compactified 6D solutions
of the Einstein equations of gravity. One can count the number of
curves on a Calabi-Yau space using an integer, the degree, that
measures how often the curves wrap around. Finding the number of
curves of a given degree is hard even for the simplest Calabi-Yau
space, the quintic. The number of degree 1 curves is 2,875. The
number of degree 2 curves is 609,250. The number of degree 3 curves
String theorists defined a single function with a
physical interpretation as a probability amplitude for a string
propagating in the Calabi-Yau space that probes all possible curves
of every possible degree at once. An equivalent formulation of the
physics uses a mirror Calabi-Yau space with a different topology but
the same string propagation. The difficult computation on the
original manifold translates into a single integral on the mirror
Mirror symmetry illustrates duality. Two classical
models can be equivalent when considered as quantum systems.
Dualities point to deep symmetries of the underlying quantum theory.
Mirror symmetry can connect symplectic geometry, which underlies
much of mechanics, with algebraic geometry, the world of complex
Mathematicians bring new rigor to quantum theory as
they work on homological mirror symmetry.
AR Hard stuff. My work is prior to all
1500 PS, 420 km/h,
8,0 Liter Hubraum,
Gewicht 2240 kg,
sollte das VK schämen.
My sister Helen Ross
in Dorset yesterday
2017 March 31
America v China
Graham Allison: "China and the United
States are currently on a collision course for war ... If Hollywood
were to make a movie pitting China against the United States,
central casting could not find two better leading actors than Xi
Jinping and Donald Trump."
Xi seeks to return China
to its traditional role as the dominant regional power. The primary
target of Chinese ambition is Japan. The current focus of
territorial disputes between Japan and China is the set of islands
known as the Senkakus to the Japanese and the Diaoyu to the Chinese.
Michael Green: "If there is one central theme in American
strategic culture as it has applied to the Far East over time, it is
that the United States will not tolerate any other power
establishing exclusive hegemonic control over Asia and the Pacific."
The differing views of China and the United States on how to
deal with the North Korean nuclear threat are likely to be aired in the summit next week in Florida. Both America
and China would likely be involved in any war that broke out on the
Das Europaparlament stellt harte
Großbritannien soll seine Rechnungen bezahlen
und nach dem Brexit schlechter gestellt sein als zuvor.
werde man das Austrittsabkommen blockieren.
2017 March 30
Nach 42 Jahren Mitgliedschaft verlässt
Großbritannien die Europäische Union. Die Hoffnung Großbritanniens
hat sich nie erfüllt, die EU als stetige Quelle lukrativer Deals zu
nutzen. Daher ist die Abkehr von der EU folgerichtig.
Industrie und dem Handwerk fehlen die Facharbeiter. Anspruchsvolle
Dienstleistungsjobs werden hauptsächlich
in London angeboten. Auf dem britischen
Arbeitsmarkt sind zero hour contracts erlaubt, Scheinbeschäftigung
von Selbstständigen und extrem kurze Kündigungszeiten. Reale
Lohnsteigerungen gibt es seit Jahren nicht mehr.
Großbritannien soll der Handel mit dem ehemaligen Commonwealth alles
wieder wettmachen. Dabei macht derzeit der Import Großbritanniens
aus den fünf größten Commonwealth-Ländern zusammen nicht einmal
soviel aus wie der Import aus Holland. Beim Export macht der
britische Handel mit dem Commonwealth nur so viel aus wie die
Ausfuhren nach Frankreich.
Großbritannien hat den Weg für den Brexit
beschritten. Noch gibt man sich zivilisiert. Bald wird man knallhart
ringen. Heikle Fragen:
Satte 60 Milliarden Euro ist angeblich die
Summe, die London vor dem Austritt zahlen soll. Premier Theresa May
hat sich zuletzt konzilianter gegeben. Trotzdem birgt der erste
Klotz auf der Brexit-Agenda Sprengstoff.
2 Die EU-Ausländer
Auf dem Verhandlungstisch liegt auch die Zukunft von mindestens
vier Millionen EU-Bürgern dies- und jenseits des Ärmelkanals. Bietet
London keine unbürokratischen Zusagen für die EU-Ausländer im Land,
hinterlässt es gleich zu Beginn verbrannte Erde.
Großbritannien ist Atommacht und Ständiges Mitglied im
UN-Sicherheitsrat. Seine Geheimdienste gelten als die besten in
Europa. Es gibt im Osten der EU Befürchtungen, London könne die an
Russland grenzenden Länder erpressen wollen.
4 Rolle des EuGH
Die harten Brexiter wollen mit dem Tag des Austritts nichts mehr
mit dem Europäischen Gerichtshof (EuGH) zu tun haben. Das
EU-Parlament besteht darauf, dass der EuGH in einer Übergangsperiode
weiterhin das Sagen hat.
Die Briten wollten die wirtschaftlichen
Vorteile des Binnenmarktes. Sie wollte den Euro nie und zog die
eigene Landesgrenze dem Schengenraum vor. Die Vorstellung einer
immer engeren Union der Völker Europas entsprach nicht dem
Nun treiben die Briten die
politische Desintegration voran. Als Wirtschaftsmacht ist
Großbritannien als nach Deutschland stärkstes Land für die EU
unverzichtbar. Wirtschaftlich ist das Königreich für die Union so
wichtig wie die zwanzig kleinsten Länder zusammen.
Deutschland ist Großbritannien der drittwichtigste Handelspartner,
die Verflechtungen zwischen den Unternehmen sind eng. Gibt es kein
Abkommen mit gegenseitigem Marktzutritt, wären gegenseitige
Wertschöpfungsketten und Geschäftsmodelle bedroht.
sind vorbei, in denen der erfolgreiche Binnenmarkt neue Mitglieder
anzog, weil er Wachstum und Wohlstand schuf. Die EU hat ihn
überreguliert und mit politischen Zielen überfrachtet. Deutschland
könnte zum Hauptverlierer des Brexits werden.
2017 March 29
Today the British government notifies the EU
of its intention to leave. This is a tragedy for the UK and a
tragedy for Europe. It is an appalling way to celebrate the EU's
Even if the exit negotiations go well,
the decision to leave the EU will have huge consequences for the UK.
Economically, it will lose favorable access to by far its biggest
market. Politically, it will create great stresses inside the UK and
Ireland. Strategically, it will eject the UK from its role in EU
councils. The UK will be poorer, more divided and less influential.
End of the Beginning
Theresa May's letter giving notice of
Brexit is a declaration of intent to embark on mission
impossible. She must fight on five fronts:
EU has already demanded a payment of up to €60 billion for existing
commitments. For the EU, this comes first. Then come thousands of
The Scottish Parliament voted yesterday to hold a new independence
referendum when the terms of Brexit are clear. May: "Now is not the
3 Northern Ireland
The Northern Irish also voted to remain in the EU. Brexit could
endanger the fragile peace between Protestants and Catholics. The
open border between north and south would close if the UK left the
customs union and the single market. A reunified Ireland could stay
in the EU.
Brexit boom? The UK is still in the
EU and benefits from the single market, especially given the
devaluation of the pound following the referendum. May: "No deal is
better than a bad deal." A reversion to WTO rules would be
5 British Domestic Politics
There is still an opposition in London. Parliament must agree
the terms of a Brexit deal with the EU. Advocates of a hard Brexit
are pressing May too — within two years or no deal.
2017 March 28
End Times in the Anglosphere
When Donald Trump met Angela Merkel earlier
this month, he put on one of his most truculent and ignorant
performances. He told Merkel that Germany owes the United States
hundreds of billions of dollars for defending it through NATO. He
showed no interest in the European Union.
The European Union
has provided peace and stability to hundreds of millions of people
for 60 years. In myriad ways it has improved life for Europeans
whose forebears lived in a charnel house. Truculent Trump has
abdicated responsibility — Europe must step into the void.
"Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in
three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS!
Fortunately, European civilization is deeper than its AA part.
2017 March 27
The End of History
Francis Fukuyama said the collapse of
communism and the US victory in the cold war showed liberal
capitalist democracy was the end of History. He recalled Georg
Hegel, who said History is a process of resolving social
contradictions via conflict to achieve higher integration, and Karl
Marx, who predicted communism.
For Fukuyama, humanity
developed in an upward arc from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment,
paving the way for democratic liberal capitalism. Modern science and
technology, alongside market capitalism, explained our path to the
top. Now History had ended — but critics see all this as no more
plausible than Hegel or Marx.
Fukuyama noted the human need
for recognition and respect, affirmed if necessary by force. People
exhibit "megalothymia" — a desire not only to enjoy respect and
recognition but also to dominate others in ostentatious and
spectacular ways. If not channeled this can turn vicious, finding an
outlet in domination and oppression.
Fukuyama said people who
had lost greatness might lose patience with comforts that failed to
feed megalothymia. He said their resentment would find a political
outlet. He feared the emergence of demagogic strongmen promising
mastery and domination. He cited an archetype of megalothymia: "a developer like Donald Trump."
2017 March 26
Special relativity has a symmetry
called Lorentz invariance: The laws of physics are the same for any
two observers moving at a constant speed relative to each other. So
they observe each other's clocks running at different rates. Each
observer feels stationary and see the other clock as ticking slowly
— time dilation.
General relativity says clocks run
differently if they experience different gravitational forces.
Comparing atomic clocks aboard GPS satellites with those on Earth
confirm the effect.
Most atomic clocks rely on the frequency
of the microwaves emitted by electrons in caesium 133 atoms. New
clocks using strontium atoms have at least three times the
precision, barely gaining or losing a second over 15 billion years.
In a new test of time dilation, two optical fiber links, one
between London and Paris and another between Paris and Braunschweig
were used to compare strontium clocks in these locations. These
clocks are moving at different velocities because of their position
on the Earth. After one day, clocks in Paris and London should show
a difference of 5 ns.
To compare them, the team synchronized
lasers to the frequency of the radiation from each of the clocks,
transmitted the laser beams over the fiber links, and superimposed
the beams to detect any differences in frequency. They confirmed
Lorentz invariance to less than 10 parts in a billion — the best
Vor 90 Jahren gelang
Werner Heisenberg eine
"Prayer is often just a jolly
good excuse to shut up
while and think."
5 dead, 40 injured
tried to save a stabbed
Global Military Spending
United States $596 billion
Next 7 countries $567 billion
Rest of world $514 billion
"Oh, Donald. The ratings are in,
got swamped. Wow.
Now you're in the thirties?"
"If this were TV, you'd be fired.
tell it like it is:
Donald, you're fired!"
Vicente Fox Quesada
British troops deploy to Estonia
Erdogan Calls Merkel Nazi
Islamist Turkish president
Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses
Angela Merkel of using
AR That will boost her
2017 March 25
For 60 years, astrophysicists have thought
supernova explosions make gold, along with dozens of other heavy
elements on the bottom few rows of the periodic table. Now computer
models of supernovas show this is unlikely. Perhaps colliding
neutron stars forge heavy elements.
In 1957, physicists
explained how exploding stars could make heavy elements. The Big
Bang made hydrogen, helium, and lithium. Stars then cooked up
progressively heavier elements up to iron.
To make nuclei
bigger than iron, you can bombard iron nuclei with neutrons, which
can be absorbed and decay into protons. Slow neutron capture, the s
process, makes elements such as strontium, barium, and lead. Rapid
neutron capture, the r process, beefs up nuclei to form heavy
elements including uranium and gold.
A supernova occurs when
a star collapses onto an iron core. Protons and electrons in the
core are forced together, making neutrons. Textbooks say supernovas
fuel the r process.
Supernovas make neutron stars. In a
binary neutron star system, the stars lose energy and eventually
collide. In the last few orbits, gravitational tides eject enormous
amounts of material. Heavy nuclei form in about a second, but they
are unstable. They decay to things like gold and platinum.
supernova makes perhaps a Moon mass of gold. Neutron star mergers
are rarer, but each one makes a Jupiter mass of gold. Think of
r-process elements as chocolate. A universe enriched by supernovas
would be like a cookie with an even glaze of chocolate. Neutron star
mergers would form nuggets, as in chocolate chip cookies.
LIGO should soon be sensitive enough to detect neutron star mergers
in distant galaxies.
AR See blog
French mathematician Yves Meyer has won the 2017
Abel Prize for his pivotal role in the development of the
mathematical theory of wavelets.
In signal processing, sound
or image signals can be represented by specifying wavelet amplitudes
in an orthonormal basis. Meyer developed a way to create wavelet
bases and wavelet transforms tailored to a given application.
Wavelet transforms are now used everywhere from JPEG compression to
processing gravitational wave signals detected by LIGO.
Meyer: "You must dig deeply into your own self in order to do
something as difficult as research in mathematics. You need to
believe that you possess a treasure hidden in the depths of your
mind, a treasure which has to be unveiled."
AR Good advice.
2017 March 24
Humans Have Bodies
Yuval Noah Harari
Mark Zuckerberg has published a
manifesto on the need to build a global community. To implement his
vision, he might have to jump headlong into a political minefield.
But his willingness to formulate a political vision deserves praise.
Any effort to build a global community must go together with
protecting and strengthening local ones. No nation, corporation, or
global network can replace communities of people who know each other
intimately. Without these groups, humans feel lonely and alienated.
Technology has been distancing us from our bodies. What people
might really need are the tools to connect to their own experiences.
In the name of sharing experiences, people let what they feel be
determined by online reactions rather than by their own experience.
The current Facebook business model values time spent online
over time spent offline. The best solutions for improving discourse
may come from getting to know each other as whole people instead of
just opinions. Humans have bodies.
My cut of the manifesto: blog February 21.
The state has the primary function of providing
security. By creating failed states, the West cleared zones of
anarchy in which Daesh thrived. European governments are now
adopting policies that will end mass migration into Europe.
Controlling the flows of people cannot neutralize Daesh militants
who are already here. Some will have entered Europe years ago, or
been born in a European country and then learned terrorist skills in
war zones. A major terrorist threat can be created by very few
The European Union is weak in this regard because of
freedom of movement. As a borderless zone, it can control the
movement of people only at its perimeters. The result is an
institution that cannot meet the primary and overriding need for
safety that states exist to serve.
Daesh joins guerrilla
warfare and spectacular acts of terror in its strategy. Daesh
militants are possessed by faith. Their attacks are moves in a
methodical strategy of savagery that serves an Islamist apocalyptic
AR My new cut from a 2015
British citizen Khalid Masood, 52, born in the UK, was a Muslim
convert, known to MI5, who had a range of previous convictions for
assault, possession of offensive weapons, and public order offences,
before committing the Westminster atrocity.
AR The UK is as infected as
France or Germany. Brexit is no cure.
2017 March 23
World leaders condemned the attack on Westminster as they
reacted with horror and sympathy.
French president François Hollande: "We are all concerned with
terrorism. France, which has been struck so hard lately, knows what
the British people are suffering today. It is clear that it is at
the European level, and even beyond that, that we must organise
German chancellor Angela Merkel: "Although the
background to these acts is not yet clear, I reaffirm that Germany
and its citizens stand firmly and resolutely alongside Britons in
the struggle against all forms of terrorism."
minister Mariano Rajoy: "Spain is with the British people. I condemn
the attacks, solidarity with the victims."
minister Mark Rutte: "Horrible images from London. The very heart of
the city has been struck. Our thoughts are with the British people."
Europe at 60
British prime minister Theresa May will
not attend celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty
The Germans and the French have argued from the
outset about the shape of Europe. For France, integration was about
building a firebreak against the power of America. For Germany,
Europe was a route to national reunification and from the demons of
Shortly before the Benelux nations came up with a
blueprint for a European Economic Community, France had scuppered
German plans for a European defense association. In the decades
since the Rome treaty, German federalists have frequently collided
with French nationalists.
The recent deluge of crises has drained confidence. A breakdown of the Brexit talks could
destabilize the union.
The price of greatness is responsibility.
When a country leaves the union, there is no punishment. There is no
price to pay to leave, but we must settle the accounts.
We will tell the truth to our citizens about
what Brexit means. We must do serious legal work with the United
Kingdom on the long-term rights of EU citizens in the UK and British
citizens living in the rest of the EU. But we can and we should
agree, as soon as possible, on the principles of continuity,
reciprocity, and non-discrimination so as not to leave these
citizens in a situation of uncertainty.
I want to say this to
our British partners. At the end of the day we both need a united
Europe to reach a deal.
2017 March 22
His Wish Came True
Donald Trump has stumbled into an Aesop's
fable of his own making. Having received what he so fervently wished
for, he's now found that leading the free world is a miserable
chore. As a candidate, he got to accuse the establishment of
trashing the country. He played hype-man for a future in which he'd
refresh our ideals. Now he's accountable in the present to all the
men and women whose lives haven't become fairy tales since he took
office. That's not fun. That's a full-time job, and that's the one
thing Donald Trump has never wanted.
Trump No Care
We have trouble believing what we see
coming out of the Trump White House. Just a few weeks into this
administration, it already seems clear that historians years from
now will be asking how the Republicans could have let this happen.
Trump is not fit to be president.
Republicans will support
Trump, let him deport Muslims and crack down on undocumented
Latinos, let him depart from party orthodoxy on trade, let him
pursue risky policies with Vladimir Putin, turn a collective blind
eye to the manifold ways in which he dishonors the office, as long
as he signs legislation that rips up the liberal state. They just
hope he doesn't start World War 3.
The American Health Care
Act is an awkward hybrid of Obamacare and conservative talking
points against Obamacare. It was immediately attacked by both
Democrats and the most conservative Republicans. The GOP goal on
Medicaid is simply to vastly reduce the amount of money the federal
government sends to the states.
On Social Security, a plan
was unveiled to eliminate a tax that high-income benefit recipients
currently pay and would in turn cut benefits for most other
recipients. Efforts to move on these fronts will require investments
of political capital the Republican leaders no longer have.
On taxes, Trump wants to lower the corporate tax rate. Congressional
Republicans will be for that but they will also want to push lower
personal income tax rates. The trick will be to pass this off as
revenue neutral. One recent GOP tax plan could add $2.4 trillion to
the deficit over ten years.
If congressional Republicans find
that Trump is no use in enabling them to undo all these liberal
entitlements and slashing taxes again on the top 1%, the romance
might be brief.
Republicans will hold ranks against
political attacks against Trump. Over the years they have excused
mountains of hypocrisy in their own leaders. It will be interesting
to see how they defend a president who may owe his election in part
The EU Dublin rules dictate that asylum
seekers must be processed in the first member state they enter. So
the UK exports hundreds of asylum seekers to other EU member states
if they have already been registered elsewhere.
Isles are rarely the first port of call for an asylum seeker, so the
UK is a net beneficiary of the rules. But this cushy status quo
might not last after Brexit. Other countries are already annoyed at
2017 March 21
The President Lies
US president Donald Trump has repeatedly
accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones. FBI director James
Comey says there is no information that supports the claim.
Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign was an
attack on the United States. Yet now it has become the subject of an
escalating series of lies by the president and the people who work
for him. The big question now is what really happened and who can
uncover the truth.
The Republican House members questioning
Comey acted like Trump staff members, decrying leaks about Russia's
attack rather than the attack itself.
Democrat Adam Schiff:
"Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely
unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence?
Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than
possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not
unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt
US persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. We
simply don't know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find
2017 March 20
The IT revolution was largely a US achievement. Google and
Facebook are expected to have a combined share of all digital
advertising worldwide this year of 60%. Google is valued at $590
billion, Facebook about $400 billion. Google is essentially a vast
global library, Amazon is a vast global bazaar, and Facebook is a
vast global club.
Confronted with this revolution, the
Europeans capitulated. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (Fang)
have got their teeth into the EU. Yet British and German politicians
want social networks to censor the web. As if these companies were
not already mighty enough, European politicians want to give them
China fought back. Baidu (the Chinese search
engine), Alibaba (the Chinese answer to Amazon), and Tencent (the
nearest thing in China to Facebook) give Big Brother the big data to
keep close tabs on Chinese netizens. Good luck to the US National
Security Agency as it tries to get through the Great Firewall of
AR Globorg is the child of
the IT revolution — Long live
Making America Safe Again
President Trump is giving the war hawks
the money they want. This does not mean he is endorsing their global
strategy. Sealing the borders is supposed to reduce the risk of
The most serious threat is China, but its goals
appear to be about reclaiming bordering territories it says are its
own. Russia remains a military paper tiger, and its conventional
capabilities are limited. The UK has shown that domestic terror
threats can be beaten by infiltration, data gathering and shared
intelligence, and that working sensitively with Islamic communities
Trump wants to make America great again. He
is demanding huge sums of money to rearm. His opponents must prevent
Fortress USA from becoming a launchpad for new conflicts.
Anglo-German Defense Cooperation
Britain and Germany are set to sign a new
defense cooperation deal after the UK launches Brexit. The UK
defense ministry said it was working with Germany "on a joint vision
statement on future cooperation" while the German defense ministry
confirmed it was working on joint projects.
London and Berlin
defend a common front in eastern Europe. Britain is leading a new
NATO deployment in Estonia and Germany is leading one in Lithuania.
AR Glad to hear it.
2017 March 19
American Protectionism: The Price
G20 finance ministers meeting in
Baden-Baden failed to promote free trade thanks to US opposition.
American Protection: The Bill
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I
had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United
States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive,
defense it provides to Germany!
American Protection: The Facts
Sorry, Mr President, that's not how NATO works.
The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO.
This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay
the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment. All NATO
countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2% of GDP on
defense by 2024. Those who currently don't spend 2% of their GDP on
defense are now increasing their defense budgets.
funds will be paid to the US. They are meant to increase NATO
defense capabilities, given the growing Russian threat. Europe must
spend more on defense, not as a favor (or payment) to the US but
because their security requires it.
The US does provide a large
military commitment to NATO. But this is not a favor to Europe. It
is vital for our own security. We fought two world wars in Europe,
and one cold war. Keeping Europe whole, free, and at peace, is a vital
A strong, united NATO, in which all contribute
their fair share to defense, will secure that peace for all Alliance
AR The reign of POTUS 45
is an insult to the world.
2017 March 18
Trump and Merkel
The New York Times
German chancellor Angela Merkel and US
president Donald Trump endured an awkward encounter — the great
disrupter confronts the last defender of the liberal world order.
Worlds apart in style and policy, they made a show of working
together, but they could not disguise the gulf that separates them
on trade, immigration, and a host of other thorny issues.
Trump went further on the need for burden sharing in NATO, demanding
not only that members increase their military spending as a
percentage of GDP but also that they make reparations for past
American contributions. He also said he believed that Germany, like
China and other trading partners, had taken advantage of the United
Merkel drove home the point that trade with Germany
benefits American workers by bringing a delegation of chief
executives from BMW, Siemens, and other German companies with
extensive American operations. Trump brought in his own contingent
of chief executives from Dow Chemical, IBM, and Salesforce.com and
used the round table to promote apprenticeships.
Germany and the United States must find a way.
AR If the way is for Germany to spend
endless billions on arms that only ratchet up tensions on the
Eastern Front, perhaps we need a rethink.
Sir Isaac Newton said the strength of
gravity follows an inverse square law. Albert Einstein explained
gravity in terms of massive objects curving spacetime. Mordehai
Milgrom accounted for anomalous stellar motions in galaxies with his
modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) — when field strength drops below
a particular (nano-g) value, gravity follows a new law. But MOND is
Astronomers took a fresh look at more than 150 spiral
galaxies and found their stars had anomalously high speeds farther
out from the center. Stacy McGaugh found a tight correlation between
galactic rotation speeds and their distribution of visible matter,
suggesting a new law, not mere dark matter.
John Moffat has
modified MOND so that gravitational field strength follows an
inverse square law closer in, only to peter out at galactic
distances, where gravity behaves as in MOND. He says he can account
for the rotations of galaxies and the odd dynamics of the Bullet
Cluster. He also predicts potentially testable effects near black
Erik Verlinde suggests gravity emerges from entangled
qubits. Physicists can already show that, but only for anti-de-Sitter space (AdS). The
vacuum seems to contain dark energy that accelerates the expansion
of spacetime. Verlinde says dark energy acts like an elastic medium,
which matter deforms, boosting gravity at long range, as in MOND.
We still need an underlying theory. Lee Smolin seeks to derive
the MOND predictions from first principles in quantum gravity. No
one is done yet.
AR It seems
feasible to me that a theory of quantum gravity will predict fields
stronger than in Newton or Einstein gravity for weak fields where
the Planck limit is not far down and dimensional instability looms.
Given dark energy, even nano-g variations seem possible. Without a
theory, who knows? See blog February 2.
Theresa May will separate two great unions, the UK and the EU. The
EU is a union of 28 states with over 500 million people, modern
in its institutions and diverse in its appurtenances, and beloved by
many of its members. The UK is a union of 4 states with some
million people, antique in its institutions and ancient in its
traditions, and also beloved by many of its citizens.
The EU might not survive 2017, given ongoing debt and
immigration crises, new Brexit and defense spending crises, and
and Germany. The UK might not survive Brexit, given the risk of a
hard divorce with no trade deal, acrimony over alimony,
and separatists in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If England
and Wales were left alone, the UK would be gone.
May will recall the first two years in office
of her illustrious predecessor Winston Churchill, who led a Britain
that against all odds
defied Nazi Europe and survived, albeit as a
junior member of the victorious Allies. Perhaps she imagines the UK
something similar today with the help of the
Anglosphere. I think this is a historic blunder.
Centrist prime minister
sees off threat from
People Power: Fighting for Peace
Imperial War Museum, London
2017-03-23 — 2017-08-28
Solar Protest Event
Republican National Convention
Cleveland, July 2016
The End Is Nigh
parliament clears path for
government to trigger Brexit
"British unionist anti-Europeans,
having chosen to relinquish
UK's principal export market and
a say on the laws that
will now advise Scotland not to
market and a say on the
laws that govern it."
"A united Ireland is not only
credible but inevitable."
The House of Lords blocks
the UK government again:
Peers vote for a "meaningful"
parliamentary vote on the
terms of withdrawal.
2017 March 17
Yesterday the EU Withdrawal Bill received royal assent. Within
the next two weeks, we will begin the negotiations to secure the UK
departure from the EU. We will forge a more global Britain, securing
a new partnership with Europe and reaching out to old friends and
new allies alike.
The SNP is trying to force the UK
government to agree to something that is fundamentally unfair to the
Scottish people. It wants to ask them to make a crucial decision
without the necessary information. They would not know what the new
partnership with the EU would look like.
AR A vote for Brexit is OK but a vote
for Scottish independence is not?
Brexit puts Northern Ireland up for
discussion given that a majority there voted to remain in the EU.
On a practical level there are two massive problems. One is the
€10 billion a year subsidy from the British exchequer to Northern
Ireland and how that is going to be replaced without wrecking the
economy of the entire island. The other is that there would still be
resistance and possibly violent resistance from a loyalist minority.
The only united Ireland worth having is one that comes about
because the people of the North want it.
Brexit creates new challenges for UK and
— EU defense spending and industry
and EU research and innovation
— European defense integration
— Future agreements on international sanctions
— Scotland and the
— Northern Ireland and border security
Continued UK-EU collaboration on security
2017 March 16
Recent space entrepreneurs have
accomplished amazing technical feats. And China may put crews on the
Moon within 20 years. But these achievements are not in the same
league as visiting Mars, and landing to stay is even further off.
Space radiation and the health hazards of weightlessness put
destinations other than the Moon out of reach with current
technology. The risk to passengers is too high. We need much faster
spacecraft and much more knowledge of space travel.
a safe mode of travel, moving many people to another planet would
cost an enormous amount, far more than the passengers themselves
could afford. No one has identified a space resource that would
compensate for that investment.
A mission to send a few
astronauts to Mars for a brief visit could cost a trillion dollars.
Scant opportunities for a self-sustaining space colony exist in our
celestial neighborhood. No place in our solar system is as
hospitable to life as Earth.
Some exoplanets circling another
star could harbor pleasant human habitats. But they are so far away
that getting there would take something like a Star Trek warp drive.
Saving this planet will have to come before sending colonists into
AR Quite right. First
priority: Head off WW3.
World War 3
Three fronts are emerging as the loci
Europe-Russia front triggered by the Ukrainian conflict
The Ukrainian crisis was preceded by two decades of NATO
expansion up to the borders of Russia, with increasing deployments
of troops by both NATO and Russia, dangerous confrontations, and
massive war games.
Mideast cauldron centered on Daesh and the Syrian war
US Mideast geopolitical strategy is directed against Iran
extending its influence through Syria and Lebanon. The Syrian war
has seen Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey arming and funding radical
jihadist groups. Daesh is aiding the strategy.
3 The Asia-Pacific front with
the United States versus China
America and China are
on a dangerous collision course. Trump has threatened a trade war
with China. A war economy with militarization, mobilization, full
employment, and jingoism is a solution to economic woes and social
AR A solution? This
pundit is too pessimistic.
2017 March 15
The sun is the most reliable, plentiful source of energy we have. As solar panel costs continue to fall, they are
becoming a growing source of clean energy around the world. But we
need to find efficient ways to store the energy from sunlight to
make it available on demand.
Batteries are one solution.
Even better would be a solar fuel. Fuels have a much higher energy
density than batteries, making them far easier to use for storage and
transportation. One ton of gasoline stores the same amount of energy
as 60 tons of batteries.
Making solar fuel would solve the
energy storage problem for solar energy. And it would provide a
power source for our existing transportation infrastructure. We
could continue to drive the cars we have now. They would be powered
by fuel made from sunlight.
At Caltech, Nate Lewis and his
team have reason to be optimistic. Green plants combine sunlight,
water, and carbon dioxide to store solar energy in chemical bonds.
Nate's team is working with the same ingredients. They need to
figure out how to do it better.
A group of investors and I
recently launched Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund that will
invest more than $1 billion in scientific discoveries that have the
potential to deliver cheap and reliable clean energy to the world.
Nate's team is looking good.
House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee:
Hard Brexit would be "a very destructive outcome leading to mutually assured damage for the EU and the UK."
Theresa May: "One of the
driving forces behind the union's creation was the remorseless
logic that greater economic strength and security come from
She was talking about the UK but the same logic applies to the
2017 Pi Day
The interpretation of quantum
physics remains as up for grabs as ever. When calculations are done
with the Schrödinger equation, the wave function gives you only
probabilities at the root level of reality. The act of making a
measurement is said to collapse the wave function.
multiple interpretations of the the measurement problem. The
Copenhagen interpretation says it highlights a barrier between
epistemology and ontology by making explicit the role of the
observer. In the multiverse interpretation, measurements make the
universe split off into many parallel versions. Quantum Bayesianism
takes the probabilities in quantum mechanics at face value to
include the observing subject.
Putting the perceiving
subject back into physics undermines the whole materialist
perspective. Rather than trying to explain the mystery of mind by
appeal to the mechanisms of matter, we must grapple with the
intertwined nature of the two. We can move forward by acknowledging
the multiple interpretations of quantum mechanics.
AR I am currently writing a paper
proposing a new perspective on quantum theory.
String Theory and Loop Theory
Quantum theory and general
relativity are fundamentally incompatible. String theory and loop
quantum gravity are two distinct attempts to reconcile them. They might
turn out to be equivalent.
says matter and energy are made of vibrating strings. Their
vibration patterns appear as different particles. Among their
oscillation modes is something that looks like a graviton. Strings
vibrate in 11 dimensions and the theory predicts supersymmetry, but
we have so far seen no supersymmetric partners.
gravity says spacetime comes in tiny loops, which evolve into a
spinfoam. But spinfoams are too rigid to allow warped spacetime.
Years ago, Gerard
't Hooft and Leonard Susskind proposed that
our 3D world could be a projection of information on its 2D
boundary. Juan Maldacena conjectured an AdS/CFT duality that builds
on their proposal. The holographic principle has matured into a major research
area in string theory.
A calculation of holographic gravity
done in the context of string theory can also be done using loop
quantum gravity, with the same result. String and loop theorists now
think of the holographic boundary as being anywhere in space. The
part-loop, part-string physics that emerges can appear on the finest
scales at a random slice through spacetime.
String theory and
loop quantum gravity look different in the bulk, but they may cast
the same shadow at the boundary. A reconciliation could reveal a
AR My paper suggests
a new way to build a quantum theory of spacetime.
2017 March 13
Europe Fights Back
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan
responded to the Dutch ban on a Turkish election rally in the
Netherlands with anger, calling the Netherlands a "banana republic"
and saying it would "pay the price" for its actions — "Nazism is
alive in the west."
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte described
the comments as bizarre and completely unacceptable. The diplomatic
spat comes just days before the Dutch general election. Rutte has
taken a tough stance to fend off a challenge from Geert Wilders.
Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen canceled a meeting
with his Turkish counterpart: "With the current Turkish attacks on
Holland the meeting cannot be seen separated from that."
Austria, Switzerland, and Germany have also canceled Turkish
campaign events in recent days.
Europe is reacting correctly to a serious threat. It would be
folly to make a habit of letting politicians from Islamic countries
hold election rallies in European countries which only incite
Islamic immigrants to back political movements that have no place in
European Civil Rights
Sir, We write to urge MPs to support the House of Lords
amendment guaranteeing the right of EU citizens who live in Britain
to remain here after Brexit. Oxford University relies on EU citizens
as lecturers, researchers and support staff. If they lost their
right to work here, our university would suffer enormous damage
which, given our role in research, would have reverberations across
Our EU colleagues are not reassured by a government
which tells them that deportation is not going to happen but
declines to convert that assurance into law; some are worried, some
are already making plans to leave. Many of our staff do not know
whether absences abroad on research contracts will count against
them. Others do not know, however longstanding their work and
residence, whether their children will be able to remain in the UK.
These are real and immediate concerns. There is no public or
parliamentary intent to harm our EU colleagues: that can be
translated into reassurance by accepting the Lords amendment. We ask
MPs to vote accordingly and join us in pressing for reciprocal
arrangements for UK nationals in the EU.
University vice-chancellor Louise Richardson and the heads of 35
AR I would have
signed it too.
2017 March 12
Mathematics becomes beautiful through the
power and elegance of its arguments and formulas, through the
bridges it builds between previously unconnected worlds, when it
surprises. For those who learn the language, maths has the same
capacity for beauty as art, music, or stars on a dark night.
Paul Dirac: "It is more important to have beauty in one's equations
than to have them fit experiment. It seems that if one is working
from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if
one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress."
Michael Atiyah: "Truth and beauty are closely related but not
the same. You are never sure that you have the truth. All you are
doing is striving towards better and better truths and the light
that guides you is beauty. Beauty is the torch you hold up and
follow in the belief that it will lead you to truth in the end."
British Interplanetary Society members
are looking at how humans could start living in space in large
numbers. Jerry Stone says we are now close to the point where such
colonies could be built using material from the Moon and asteroids.
The space colonists would initially build and maintain solar
panels that would be used to provide power on Earth. Other
industries might later move into space to take advantage of the
microgravity and cheap solar power.
Colonists could live on
the inside surfaces of vast hollow cylinders, which would rotate to
provide gravity. Gerard O'Neill once suggested the cylinders could
be 4 miles in diameter and 20 miles long, to hold up to 10 million
AR We could sail to the
stars in such cylinders.
2017 March 11
Germans are debating whether Germany
should acquire nuclear weapons.
During the Cold War, US
military strategists stationed vast numbers of nukes in Western
Europe. In 1956, the US Strategic Air Command kept 91 nuclear bombs
for East Berlin alone. The Soviet side amassed similar nuclear
Germany was home to the Pershing II, which could
hit Moscow in 15 minutes. Neither side had time to think through an
evolving situation rationally. The only certainty was that Germany
would be Ground Zero for nuclear war.
During the Cold War,
most of the borderlands between West and East Germany were sown with
nuclear mines. If the Red Army attacked, NATO would turn the country
into an apocalyptic mass of rubble to halt the advance of the
Germany must stick to its hard-learned principles as
a peaceful nation.
AR Britain and
France must dedicate their nuclear forces to defending Europe.
In 2007, an astrophysicist detected a fast
radio burst (FRB) in archival data from a telescope in Australia.
The burst lasted less than 5 ms and was extragalactic in origin. The
power behind it was over 10^35 W. Astrophysicists have detected only
25 other FRBs since then.
The unknown source of FRBs prompted
intense speculation. Some scientists say they come from massive
neutron stars or maybe vanishing black holes.
The latest idea is sailing aliens.
Avi Loeb and Manasvi
Lingam say FRBs could be traced back to aliens who cruise through
space on the wings of light sail technology. FRBs could be
artificial beams for driving light sails. Alien traffic controllers
would keep the beam aimed at the sail and distant observers would
see only a flash as the beam pivoted across the universe.
Solar sailing has been a science-fiction concept for decades. Arthur
C. Clarke described it in 1964. In 2018, the NASA
NEA Scout will use a reflective sail to travel toward a lump of
Loeb and Lingam calculate that an FRB transmitter
would beam sunlight at an area roughly twice the diameter of Earth.
A solar sail big enough to catch these rays could propel a
AR On FRBs
see blog 2017-01-05, 2016-03-03, 2016-01-22, 2016-01-15.
2017 March 10
Pyongyang is developing an offensive
doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons in the early stages of a
conflict. Last year, North Korea fired a No-dong missile to a point
at sea at the same range as the SK port city of Busan. This time, NK
launched four extended-range Scud missiles to a point at sea at the
same range as the US Marine Corps Air Station near Iwakuni, Japan.
The United States and South Korea are currently holding the
military exercise Foal Eagle. This latest annual joint exercise
lasts two months and involves tens of thousands of US and SK
military personnel, as well as an aircraft carrier, bombers, and
F-35 aircraft based out of Iwakuni. Foal Eagle rehearses war plan
OPLAN 5015 for a pre-emptive strike against NK.
plans to use nuclear weapons against US forces throughout Japan and
SK to blunt an invasion. NK strategy depends on using nuclear
weapons before the US can destroy them. NK ICBMs are intended to
deter Donald Trump after Kim Jong Un obliterates Seoul and Tokyo.
Both Kim and Trump will face enormous pressure to hit first or be
beaten to the punch.
2017 March 9
US — NK
North Korea has ignored international opposition and
insisted on advancing its nuclear and missile programs in violation
of UN Security Council resolutions.
The United States and the
Republic of Korea are conducting military exercises on an enormous
scale and putting more military pressure on North Korea.
two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other
with neither side willing to give way. Are they really ready for a
UK — EU
Later this month, Theresa May will repudiate
UK membership of the EU by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon
These are going to be difficult negotiations, with a
high chance of a calamitous outcome, with poisonous results.
The UK needs to achieve the best possible deal on trade. But the UK
has a weak hand. The UK does far more of its trade with the rest of
the EU than the rest of the EU does with the UK.
Major: "The most successful results are obtained when talks are
conducted with goodwill: it is much easier to reach agreement with a
friend than a quarrelsome neighbour. But, behind the diplomatic
civilities, the atmosphere is already sour."
should not quibble over the terms of the divorce. The EU intends to
ask for €60 billion, roughly 3% of UK GDP. Over a decade, 0.3% of
GDP annually is petty cash. The future UK relationship with the EU
is worth more than that.
2017 March 8
The Next War
William D. Hartung
President Trump loves generals. He has
assembled the most military foreign policy team in memory, if not in
American history. Everything is likely to be viewed through a
Trump also relies on a small circle of White
House advisers led by Steve Bannon. In a best case scenario, the
generals wrest control of presidential attention from Bannon and his
minions when it comes to foreign policy decision making — assuming
the generals have a saner perspective than an ideological
The true test may come if Trump and Bannon push
for military action against Iran. Another Mideast war is unlikely to
be any more successful than the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts.
This is what it is to live in the realm of
the Big Man. His drama perforce is ours — relentless political
struggle, permanent revolution, shattering of norms, scandal and
controversy, the capital deep in broken crockery.
Trump is determined to change the office. We can be grateful that his need for
continual disruption, constant outrage, maintaining an iron grip on
the news cycle, and sheer winning without ever retreating means he
has a grand proclivity for stepping on his own dick.
is the vital springboard of his presidency. The lower his poll
numbers, the more outlandish his lies, the greater the resistance
from opponents, the thicker his scandals
and chaos, and the likelier he will be to seek to use a crisis to lever himself to
a position of dominating power.
A terrorist attack
on American soil would put Trump in a perfect position to act
aggressively and comprehensively. His political drama will have been
elevated from a battle against elites and the status quo to a heroic
struggle for the survival of the nation.
Marine Le Pen
FN presidential candidate Marine Le Pen:
"It's time we finished with the European Union."
Nouvelle Droite have left their imprint on the FN. These thinkers
propose to bind Europe together by the irrefutable and irresistible
claims of race and ethnicity.
FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen
says France must work with Russia "to save boreal [northern] Europe
and the white world" from the threats of immigration and
Marine Le Pen shares with her father an
apocalyptic and racialist vision of global conflict.
Richard J. Evans
Hitler was appointed as Reich chancellor
in 1933. He had won mass support following an economic crisis.
Whereas other politicians looked like mere administrators, he would
put Germany first.
Hitler got the armed forces on his side by
giving them massive increases in funding and a huge new armaments
program. The Nazis reorganized education and culture to instill
was a media figure who gained popularity and controlled his country
through speeches and publicity. He was temperamental, volatile,
insecure, allergic to criticism, and often indecisive.
"Those of us who appreciate
the power of science have
science deniers as an
important annoyance ... but
NK to US: Please nuke
"Bad (or sick) guy!"
AR A tweet too far
A House of Lords report says
could walk away from
the EU in 2019 without paying
a penny of
€60 billion Brexit bill.
AR Correct EU response:
PDF: 32 pages, 5.8 MB
"Handle leverages our
the quadruped and
2017 March 7
Daniel Dennett assumes we are physical
objects and any appearance to the contrary must be accounted for in
a way that is consistent with this truth.
Dennett says most
of what we and our fellow organisms do to stay alive, cope with the
world and one another, and reproduce is not understood by us or
them. It is competence without comprehension.
He says that
the manifest image of each species is a user illusion designed by
evolution to fit the needs of its users. The underlying reality is
accurately represented only by the scientific image.
illusions are the products of bottom-up design, understandable
through evolution by natural selection, a mindless process of
accidental variation, replication, and differential survival.
Alan Turing saw how a machine could do arithmetic perfectly
without knowing what it was doing. This competence does not depend
on comprehension. Dennett says all the brilliance and comprehension
in the world arises ultimately out of uncomprehending competences
compounded over time.
Much of cultural evolution is as
uncomprehending as biological evolution. All our capacities for
understanding, all the values, perceptions, and thoughts that
present us with the manifest image and allow us to form the
scientific image, have their real existence as systems of
representation in the central nervous system.
image of the world and ourselves includes as a prominent part not
only the physical body and central nervous system but the
consciousness of ourselves and others. Dennett holds that
consciousness is not part of reality in the way the brain is.
Rather, it is a user illusion.
You may well ask how
consciousness can be an illusion, since every illusion is itself a
conscious experience. It seems the reality of my own consciousness
is the one thing I cannot be deluded about. Dennett denies the
authority of the first-person perspective with regard to
According to Dennett, the representations that
underlie human behavior are found in neural structures of which we
know very little. The same is true of the similar conception we have
of our own minds. That conception does not capture an inner reality.
Dennett concludes that we are not immediately aware of real
subjective experiences because the reality of such phenomena is
incompatible with scientific materialism.
We Are Not Just Animals
We distinguish people from the rest of
nature. Human beings live in mutual accountability — on this fact is
built the edifice of rights and duties.
Morality is like a
field of flowers beneath which the corpses are piled in a thousand
layers. It is an evolved mechanism whereby the human organism
proceeds through life sustained on every side by bonds of mutual
We human beings relate to one another not as
objects but as subjects, as creatures who address one another as I
to you — as Martin Buber said in his meditation I and Thou.
We understand ourselves in the first person. By speaking in the
first person we can participate in dialogues founded on the
assurance that, when you and I both speak sincerely, we are speaking
Philosophy has the task of describing the world in
which we live — not the world as science describes it — in which we
meet one another I to I.
2017 March 6
North Korea fired four ballistic missiles toward
Japan early today. Military authorities in South Korea, Japan, and
the United States say the four projectiles traveled almost 1,000 km
toward the Sea of Japan. Prime minister Shinzo Abe said three landed
inside Japan's exclusive economic zone. The firing is a response to
joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.
AR Let the historic mission of
Donald Trump be to take down the NK regime before a tweetstorm
flushes him away.
My most dreaded chore this year will be
to fill out an 85-page UK government application form that will give
me, I hope, permanent residence in the UK after Brexit. The
amendment to the Brexit bill voted by the House of Lords last week
in support of a unilateral guarantee to EU nationals is a symbolic
goodwill gesture, for which we will be eternally grateful.
AR Inexplicably, the UK has declared a
kind of war against Europe. Voters fed a diet of mendacious
propaganda decided by a narrow majority in a botched referendum to
instruct their leaders to do this scurrilous deed, and no one more
eminent than two former prime ministers has emerged to seek to stem
the rush toward the abyss. This is a historic tragedy.
2017 March 5
Politics is being reshaped in the United
States and in Europe. At stake in the forthcoming elections in
France and Germany will be the future of Europe.
populists are intent on blowing up traditional conservative
politics. They believe that traditional culture is at risk from
immigration and political correctness. Traditional conservatives are
unsure whether to play along or to fight back.
occurring both economically and culturally. Jobs are displaced and
communities fractured as the force of globalization blurs old
boundaries of nation, race and culture. The politicians
of the center have become the managers of the status quo in an era
when people want change.
For the progressive wing of
politics, the correct strategy is build a new coalition out from the
center. The center needs a new policy agenda. At its heart has to be
an alliance between those driving the technological revolution and
those responsible for public policy in government.
agenda has to focus on these opportunities for radical change in the
way that government and services like health care serve people. This
must include how we prepare our work forces for the future,
reform tax and welfare systems, and rebuild infrastructure
and invest in communities.
Progressives must make the case
for staying in a reformed European Union.
AR Technoglobalism (blog February 21)
Theresa May is the stealth prime minister.
Her course through Brexit is still unknown. The only coherent
alternative to her strategy of putting immigration controls ahead of
prosperity and walking out of the single market is to deny that the
referendum settled the matter.
May has placed the value of
identity and community ahead of the needs of the economy. In the
face of every grim economic forecast, she has remained unflinchingly
true to tighter border controls. Her traditional emphasis on
community over commerce is more closely aligned to ordinary voters
than to any theoretical construct.
When May was growing up,
her father was always on call for his parishioners. Her ambition was
to be the first woman prime minister. She went up to Oxford to read
geography, met Philip at a student Conservative Association disco,
and married him in 1980.
In 2016, at the age of 59, May
became prime minister. She had been home secretary since 2010. She
has been prime minister for an extraordinary six months.
AR Traditionalism (blog February 12)
2017 March 4
Friendship with Russia
US president Donald Trump says he likes
Russian president Vladimir Putin and wants to get on with him. Those
who feel the western approach to Russia since 1990 has been
provocative and counterproductive might cheer at all
this. We could stop fatuous sanctions, establish red lines around
areas of aggression, and find areas of agreement and cooperation.
Trump is naive and lacking in executive competence. If he really
intends a seismic shift in western policy toward Russia, the more we
know about the backstory the better. Congress has set up a hue and
cry, and tends to work thoroughly, so Trump would be well
advised to come clean.
A rapprochement between America and
Russia is a truly worthwhile objective. Its capacity to relieve
tension, release resources, combat poverty, and save lives is
colossal. A few lies and stumbles along the way would be a price
AR We should cut
Trump some slack on Russia.
Future of Europe
The European Commission white paper Future of
Europe offers reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has decided to
hand responsibility for what happens next to the member states.
The five options to be debated over the coming months range from
stripping the EU back to the single market on through to a scenario
under which Brussels would speak for Europe on foreign policy and
trade and raise its own taxes. In between are the choices of doing
nothing and ignoring the crises that threaten to engulf the EU,
creating a multi-speed Europe in which member states choose how far
to participate in common policies, and doing less more efficiently.
The EU27 member states must decide their own future. British
Conservative MEPs will work alongside colleagues in the European
Parliament to push for solutions they believe will leave the Union
best placed to meet the challenges of the future.
AR Remain in the EU and shape the
2017 March 3
NATO and EU
NATO cannot deter Russia alone and must
formulate a grand strategy for security in Europe with the EU, says
NATO Deputy SACEUR Sir Adrian Bradshaw:
responsibility of NATO ... not only to be the architect and executor
of military strategy, but to understand clearly how military
strategy is integrated with the other arms of national power ...
We need to move in the direction of the ability to formulate in the
old-fashioned terms, grand strategy ... I think it has quite serious
implications regarding the relationship between NATO and the EU."
He says NATO has made effective changes since 2014 including
rapid response war games involving tens of thousands of troops in
eastern Europe. But conventional military tools are insufficient —
the west needs to develop hybrid deterrence.
2017 March 2
The US-UK Special Relationship
Anthony R. Wells
Dr Wells spoke at a seminar in Exeter College Oxford. Our
discussion was animated and fruitful. He is the only living
person to have worked for British intelligence and served in the
Royal Navy as a British citizen and to have worked for US
intelligence and the US Navy as a US citizen.
2017 March 1
What we are witnessing today is the Renewal
of the American Spirit. America is strong, America is proud, and
America is free.
America must put its own citizens
first. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.
Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should
support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot
allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America.
promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to
demolish and destroy Daesh — a network of lawless savages that have
slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of
all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our
friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile
enemy from our planet.
According to the National Academy of
Sciences, our current immigration system costs American taxpayers
many billions of dollars a year. Switching away from this current
system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a
merit-based system, will have many benefits.
spent approximately $6 trillion in the Mideast, all this while our
infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this $6 trillion we could
have rebuilt our country. To launch our national rebuilding, I will
be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1
trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States.
Education is the civil rights issue of our time. I am calling
upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds
school choice for disadvantaged youth.
America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States
military with the tools they need to prevent war and — if they must
— to fight and to win. I am sending the Congress a budget that calls
for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in
We strongly support NATO. But our partners
must meet their financial obligations. We expect our partners,
whether in NATO, in the Mideast, or the Pacific, to take a direct
and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and
pay their fair share of the cost.
My job is to represent the
United States of America. We want harmony and stability, not war and
conflict. We want peace, wherever peace can be found.
celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on
tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.
AR Much better!
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)
President Trump will propose raising military spending by $54
billion — a nearly 10% increase
— and reducing spending by the same
amount across much of the rest of the government.
Trump: "We have to
start winning wars again."